- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A federal appeals court on Tuesday told both sides of an Obamacare-related lawsuit to update their arguments in the wake of Supreme Court and White House actions that have colored the fight around the administration’s “contraception mandate.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered government attorneys and Priests for Life, an anti-abortion group and one of dozens of faith-based nonprofits to sue over the birth-control rule, to bring the panel up to speed by Sept. 16.

Obamacare’s contraception mandate requires employers to insure 20 forms of FDA-approved birth control as part of company health plans.

The Supreme Court in June said closely held corporations do not have to comply if it violates their moral beliefs, but lawsuits from nonprofit employers are still wending their way to the justices.

Shortly after the ruling in “Hobby Lobby,” the justices said Wheaton College, a Christian institution, did not have to comply with the mandate for now.

The administration then proposed a workaround that lets faith-based universities, hospitals and charities duck the mandate by outlining their objections in writing to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Many religious nonprofits said the accommodation — the second one the Obama administration has extended — did not go far enough in exempting religious groups from the mandate, and it is unclear if any plaintiffs will drop their legal challenges.

For now, the judges want to know if the Supreme Court’s decisions or the administration’s new rules have changed the burden on Priests for Life or the government’s interest in ordering employers to cover contraceptives.

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