The United States Supreme Court on Friday afternoon said it will consolidate seven cases challenging Obamacare’s birth-control mandate and hear arguments about them next year.
Court observers had expected the Justices to accept at least one of the cases after a private conference was heard this morning.
The current legal challenge, the fourth to be accepted by the Court since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, involves religious-sponsored non-profit corporations.
These institutions object on moral grounds to an Obamacare provision that allows their employees to obtain contraceptive coverage through their health insurance, even if those contraceptive products are provided by insurance companies and the government, instead of the institutions.
The groups argue that even indirect participation in such a plan is offensive, and they want to be included in a broader Obamacare exception extended to churches, synagogues and worship-based employers.
The federal government believes that religiously oriented non-profit institutions such as hospitals and universities have numerous employees who don’t share the beliefs of religious groups that sponsor the non-profits, and these workers would be harmed by the exclusions.
For now, arguments are expected to be heard in March, but the Court hasn’t defined yet how it will combine the cases.
In general terms, the Court will decide if the contraceptive mandate and the government’s attempts to exempt non-profit groups violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA.
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