A divided Federal court in the District of Columbia sided with more business owners who brought suit to challenge the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) birth control mandate today. The court’s order expressly provided “a temporary reprieve from the mandate.” The plaintiff business owners complained that the mandate violated their beliefs as Roman Catholics.
Writing for the majority, Judge J. R. Brown wrote that the court was being asked to decide whether the mandate “trammels the right of free exercise [of religion]–a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties….” The majority held that it did.
This D.C. Court of Appeals ruling is in line with at least nine other courts that have ruled against the contraceptive coverage mandate.
The birth control mandate has been a flash point since it was announced a year ago.
Under the new rules, all employers with the exception of houses of worship have to pay for — or make available through an outside insurer — contraceptive coverage for employees as part of their insurance plans, including such items as the “morning-after pill,” sterilizations and other treatments to which the Catholic Church, many evangelicals and other religions object.
Dozens of additional suits have been, and continue to be, filed throughout the country. Most notably, Hobby Lobby, a craft store, has also filed suit over various ObamaCare mandates such as the contraceptive coverage requirement. Hobby Lobby sought and has been granted an expedited en banc hearing on the issue. Ultimately, this mandate will likely end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for final resolution.