- No mas: Principal bans Spanish language in intercom announcement
- Hacking software could put ‘zombie drone army’ in user’s hands
- Support for stricter gun laws drops: poll
- 10 whales dead, 41 others stranded in Everglades
- John Boehner faces bipartisan pressure to allow gay-rights vote
- Martin Bashir resigns from MSNBC over ‘ill-judged’ comments about Sarah Palin
- Rep. Duncan Hunter: While Obama prays for Iranian change, U.S. should ready its nukes
- Best company ever? Veteran Beer Co. exists to employ vets, provide quality beer
- Iran official: Sanctions ‘utterly failed’ to stop nuclear program
- ‘Black Santa’ display at IU sparks student outrage
Appeals courts mull ‘Obamacare’ contraception mandate
Business owners who object to the contraception mandate in President Obama’s health care law are pleading their cases in appeals courts across the country, a curtain raiser before a potential showdown in the Supreme Court.
So far, federal circuit courts across the country have diverged on whether religiously devout owners should be exempt from a requirement in the Affordable Care Act that requires them to cover a spectrum of FDA-approved contraceptives as part of their health insurance plans. Lawyers involved in the cases agree the split is a significant development that could send the case to Washington.
“I feel quite confident that one of these will be heard by the Supreme Court,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed briefs in support of the mandate.
The requirement has been a political flash point in Washington for more than year and resulted in about 60 lawsuits from corporate owners and religious nonprofits, such as hospitals and universities.
President Obama tried to mollify the latter group’s concerns by offering an accommodation that would let the nonprofits defer the costs and responsibility of contraception coverage to an insurer or third-party administrator who could offer the drugs’ through a separate plan. But the nation’s Catholic bishops and religious groups have largely rejected the compromise, leaving the situation in limbo.
So it is the corporate cases that are heating up in a series of appellate court showdowns this month and next.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Chicago on Wednesday from attorneys for two Midwest companies owned by devout Catholics — the Grote family, which manufactures vehicle safety systems, and Cyril and Jane Korte, who manage about 90 full-time employees at their construction firm, K&L Contractors.
Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma-based craft-store corporation and most well known of the corporate plaintiffs, made its case before the entire 10th Circuit Court of Appeals the next day, and the 3rd and 6th circuit courts are scheduled to hear arguments from two more plaintiffs Thursday and June 11.
Adele Keim, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, attended the Denver arguments while her colleague, Kyle Duncan, delivered arguments on behalf of the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby. She said it was clear that the eight judges — it was an “en banc” hearing, so all of the circuit judges attended instead of only three — were taking the matter seriously.
“The court was very engaged,” she said. “And it was intense for both sides.”
The plaintiffs say the mandate is forcing them to choose between their beliefs and providing health insurance for their employees because flouting the mandate would result in crippling fines. They are objecting the loudest to emergency contraception that is taken after sex, which they equate with abortion.
More than 30 for-profit entities have filed suit, and 26 of them have obtained rulings that address their merits, at least in part, according to the fund, which keeps track of the cases. Nineteen of the for-profit plaintiffs have secured temporary relief from the mandate, before its merits are vetted by the courts.
The courts are exploring whether the owners have standing to bring the suit or will be harmed by the mandate.
For the ACLU, Ms. Melling said owners who complain that the requirement will place a substantial burden on them are relying on “too attenuated a link” between themselves and their functions as employers.
Supporters of the mandate say employers should insure contraceptives because it is not much different than paying salaries, which could be used to purchase the drugs or devices. They also say the owners would be loath to associate themselves with their corporations if they had to defend themselves, for instance, against a tort claim.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Almost 1.5 million deemed eligible for Medicaid in October alone: Obama administration
- Federal judge set to decide Obamacare battle over subsidies
- Diagnosis: Health site better, but needs work
- Lawmakers on both sides doubt Obamacare website troubles over
- Latest Obamacare delay: Obama administration puts off Web enrollment for small businesses
Latest Blog Entries
- Tensions hit boiling point over Obamacare enrollment figures, error rates
- Young, uninsured adults vital to Obamacare are not keen on enrolling: New Harvard poll
- Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will promote Obamacare at Mall of America
- HealthCare.gov employs a new look once again
- Rep. Gwen Moore: Supreme Court needs to 'rule on the side of women'
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
Bad science puts rich nations on the hook for trillions in climate liabilities
- Angry NTSB ousts railroad union from N.Y. train crash site
- Xbox One, Playstation 4 games penalize users for cursing in their own homes
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
- Apple wins facial recognition patent for iPhone 6
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- HURT: Postal Service misses address by a whole continent
- Puerto Rico caravan honoring Paul Walker ends in 6 drunken-driving arrests, 72 speeding tickets
- Wingate University on lockdown after 2 shot dead
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Does it take over 25 years in public service to really know what goes on in Washington?
Despite cynicism about the law, it can provide you justice, protection, and ensure your rights.