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Supreme Court Justice denies injunction against contraceptive coverage mandate
Supreme Court Justice denies injunction against contraceptive coverage mandate
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[JURIST] US Supreme Court [official website] Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday denied [opinion, PDF] Hobby Lobby, Inc.’s [corporate website] application for injunction which would have prevented enforcement of the provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] mandating that companies provide employees with coverage for contraceptives pending its appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] challenging the provision. Sotomayor ruled that the Oklahoma City family’s religiously oriented business did not meet the requirements to continue the injunction [SCOTUSblog report] against the PPACA’s mandate. The opinion stated that the Hobby Lobby family did not meet the standard of showing that they have an “indisputably clear” legal right to an injunction while appeal is pending. Justice Sotomayor stated:

While the applicants allege they will face irreparable harm if they are forced to choose between complying with the contraception-coverage requirement and paying significant fines, they cannot show that an injunction is necessary or appropriate to aid our jurisdiction. Even without an injunction pending appeal, the applicants may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts. Following a final judgment, they may, if necessary, file a petition for a writ of certiorari in this Court.

Justice Sotomayor’s opinion was limited to whether the injunction should stand and did not address whether the constitutional challenge would succeed.

This is the first time that the Supreme Court has been involved in the legal battles over the contraceptives mandate in the PPACA, but more than forty lawsuits have been filed challenging the provision. Sotomayor’s opinion, however, is just the latest development in the legal battle over the PPACA. Last week, a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri [official website] blocked [JURIST report] a Missouri law which prohibits mandatory insurance coverage of birth control for any employers with ethical or religious objections, finding that the state law conflicts with the PPACA. The Missouri Insurance Coalition [official website] sought to have the state law blocked, arguing that it is invalid because it conflicts with federal law. Earlier this month, attorneys for the federal government filed a motion [JURIST report] with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to dismiss a complaint challenging the PPACA. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt had filed a suit in January against the federal health care law arguing that “Congress had exceeded its Article I powers by enacting the Act’s minimum coverage provision. Last month the US Supreme Court remanded Liberty University v. Geithner [JURIST reports] to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website]. The court ordered the lower court to re-consider the case in light of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius [JURIST report], in which the Supreme Court decided in June that the PPACA is a constitutionally valid exercise of Congress’s powers under the Taxing Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder].