Contraception Mandate Halted Again

The Supreme Court extended a partial injunction against Obamacare’s contraception mandate on Friday, ruling that two specific non-profit Catholic groups can, for the time being, continue to be exempt from the mandate. The ruling is effectively an extension of an injunction that the court had already issued, and it will remain in place until the case is decided by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case and ruling are somewhat complicated, but the end effect is that employees of Little Sisters for the Poor won’t have any contraceptive coverage under their employer plans until this case makes its way through the courts.

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to offer health plans with contraceptive coverage. If an employer objects on religious grounds, the burden of paying for the contraception is transferred from the employer itself to the insurance company providing the coverage. However, the federal government requires the employer that’s making the religious objection — in this case, Little Sisters for the Poor — to fill out a form claiming an exemption. That form, called EBSA Form 700, is at the heart of this lawsuit. Little Sisters claims that by by filling it out, it’s paving the way for its employees to eventually receive contraceptive coverage, and thus violating its religious beliefs.

The justices specifically stated that they were not ruling on the merits of the case, which will be decided by the 10th Circuit. They also ordered Little Sisters to supply the government with a separate form declaring that they are registering a religious objection to the contraceptive mandate, though that form won’t have the same legal force as Form 700.