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Next Obamacare challenge one step closer to Supreme Court

October 22, 2013 by NCC Staff


A national hobby and crafts chain store has asked the Supreme Court to hear a case that will present the next big challenge to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

HobbyLobby640Hobby Lobby petitioned the Supreme Court on Monday to take up its case challenging the Obamacare birth control mandate that applies to for-profit companies.

Link: Read the petition

The move is slightly unusual, since Hobby Lobby won its most recent appeals decision in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and in effect the Court could overrule a decision that Hobby Lobby has already won.

But circuit courts have had conflicting rulings in related cases, creating the kind of controversy that almost guarantees the Supreme Court’s attention.

On Monday evening, the Obama administration repeated its request for the Court to take up the Hobby Lobby case, and to wait on hearing a second case, the Conestoga Wood case, until the Court rules on Hobby Lobby.

Representing Hobby Lobby in its brief is Paul Clement, who argued before the bench in the 2012 Affordable Care Act decision. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will oppose Clement, as he did during the 2012 arguments over Obamacare in front of the Justices.

The Obama administration had asked the Supreme Court on September 19 to grant the case for review during the Court’s current term. In all likelihood, the Court will accept the case, based on the precedents set by similar executive branch requests.

In July, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton granted Hobby Lobby and its sister company, Mardel Christian bookstore, a temporary exemption from an ACA requirement that it provide insurance coverage for morning-after pills and similar emergency birth control methods and devices.

The Obama administration’s lawyers want the Justices to decide if corporations can claim a religious exemption to this one part of the ACA.

Link: A look at Obamacare’s top constitutional challenges

What’s uncertain is if the Court will accept just the Hobby Lobby case, or combine it with the Conestoga Wood case.

Conestoga is a Mennonite family-owned, profit-making business, and it claims that the ACA’s birth control mandate violates the company’s rights under the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Third Circuit rejected that argument.

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