Supreme Court hears argument in birth control mandate challenge

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in the case Zubik v. Burwell [SCOTUSblog materials]. The case consolidates challenges by several different religious institutions opposing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The plaintiffs argue [transcript, PDF] that the contraceptive coverage mandate forces non-profit organizations to act against their deeply-held religious beliefs. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [official website] argues that the mandate is not a cognizable burden under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and that the government's compelling interest is protecting the health of all women.

Health care related issues have generated significant legal controversy in the US. Last month the US House of Representatives failed [JURIST report] to garner enough votes to override the president's veto of the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015, the most recent legislative effort to repeal the ACA and defund Planned Parenthood. President Barack Obama had originally vetoed [JURIST report] the bill in January.

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