In a private conference on Tuesday, the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will consider four potential challenges to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Experts believe at least one case will be accepted by the Court, to be argued and decided in its current term next year.
Some Court watchers believe the case that has the best chance of getting its day in front of the Justices is Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
There are three other cases under consideration that could also be accepted and combined with the Hobby Lobby case: Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius; Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius; and Liberty University v. Lew.
In the Hobby Lobby case, the national hobby and crafts chain store has petitioned the Court to take on the Obamacare birth control mandate that applies to for-profit companies. The Obama administration also has asked the Court to take up the Hobby Lobby case.
The central issue in the Hobby Lobby case is if the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 allows a for-profit corporation to deny employees health insurance coverage related to contraceptives, because of the religious objections of the company’s owners.
In the Conestoga Wood case, a Mennonite family-owned, profit-making business claims that the ACA’s birth control mandate violates the company’s rights under the First Amendment free exercise clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In its petition to the Court, Conestoga’s lawyers claim its case is a better one for the Justices to review than Hobby Lobby or Autocam.
The Autocam case is also about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Kennedy family owns Autocam and claims that it will be forced to offer coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization, against their religious objections. Autocam also says it would face a $19 million fine by ignoring the mandate, which would ruin its business.
The Liberty University case challenges the power of Congress to pass the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act, and whether the employer and individual mandates force companies and employees to violate their religious beliefs and their First Amendment rights.
The Justice Department wants the Supreme Court to heat the Hobby Lobby case first, and to hold off on the other three cases. But lawyers in the other three cases believe the Hobby Lobby case is too narrow in its definition and they want a broader interpretation.
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