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Obama administration asks Supreme Court to review contraception mandate

The Obama administration [official website] on Thursday petitioned [text, PDF] the US Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to review the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] "contraception mandate." The legal question about the provision was not discussed before the court when it upheld the Act in the June 2012 ruling [JURIST report]. The petition asserts that the court of appeals' decision [JURIST report] in favor of Hobby Lobby is incorrect and would "transform [the] Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) [text] from a shield for individuals and religious institutions into a sword used to deny employees of for-profit commercial enterprises the benefits and protections of generally applicable laws." The court is likely to take up the issue, as the appeals courts have split in their decisions on the legality of the rule.

In September the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] that Autocam Corp. [corporate website] must comply with the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate. In July the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that family-owned, profit-making businesses cannot challenge the new federal health care law's birth control mandate on religious grounds. In June the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that Hobby Lobby [corporate website] may challenge the mandate to provide employees with coverage for contraceptives under the PPACA. In February the Obama administration issued a new rule [JURIST report], which details a broader exemption to the contraception mandate, allowing for religious nonprofits that object to providing health insurance coverage for birth control to opt out of the requirement. In 2012 the US Supreme Court decision upholding the PPACA centered on "individual mandate" provision [text] of the act, which requires every person, with some exceptions for religious and other reasons, to purchase some form of health insurance by January 1, 2014, or be subject to a fee equal to either a percent of that individual's income or flat rate of $695.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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