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Birth control mandate blocked by Sotomayer

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Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor has temporarily managed to block a requirement that required some religious groups to offer contraception options as part of worker health plans just hours before the Affordable Health Care Act went into effect last night in response to a plea by Roman Catholic groups opposed to birth control, including the Denver-based Catholic women's group Little Sisters of the Poor.

Sotomayer’s action came after a preliminary injunction filed by Little Sisters to prevent enforcement of the mandate was denied earlier in the day by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

"We are delighted with the ruling," exclaimed Mark L. Rienzi, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who represents the nuns in the lawsuit. “Without Justice Sotomayor's order the nuns would have been forced to comply with the contraceptive mandate on New Year’s Day or face large fines."

Further arguments for and against the Obamacare provision requiring employers to provide health insurance that includes contraception at no additional cost to employees as a preventive care service involve the matter of religious freedom in this country, and is also being challenged by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a (secular), family-owned business based in Oklahoma City, which argues the requirement violates the owners' right to run their business based on “Christian principles.”

The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear the Hobby Lobby case later this year.

In the meantime, Sotomayer has given the Administraion until 10 a.m. EST Friday to respond to her decision.

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