The Supreme Court on Tuesday all but ruled religious corporations do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage required in the Affordable Care Act, according to The Los Angeles Times. The case in question is Sebelius v Hobby Lobby.
Witnesses at the proceedings told The Times that the court's conservative justices were sharply critical of the provision in the law. Meanwhile, the women justices, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared to defend the law.
All three are considered to liberal in the majority of their decisions.
Justice Anthony Kennedy played his usual role as the potential swing vote in a divided conservative/liberal court. Kennedy apparently told the government’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who defended the mandate, forcing companies to cover contraceptives “would permit requiring profit-making corporations to pay for abortions."
The core of the issue is whether the for-profit corporation, plaintiff Hobby Lobby Inc., has the right to refuse some contraceptive services to its employees.
Verrilli told Chief Justice John Roberts it would potentially open the floodgates for for-profit corporations to claim exemptions. He was quickly contradicted by the defense that noted Congress passed the 1993 Religious Freedom Act for that very reason.
Kennedy, the swing vote, seemed skeptical of the government’s case. Thus, both Verrilli and Paul Clement, the lawyer representing Hobby Lobby, reportedly aimed at Kennedy in closing arguments.
Many legal experts expect this case to be the first of many aimed against parts of Obamacare.
A ruling is expected to come in June.
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