The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that some companies with religious objections can be exempt from ObamaCare's contraception mandate, delivering a victory to the religious right while dealing a potentially serious blow to the health care law.
In a 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that "closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage" for their employees, according to SCOTUSBlog. Writing for the majority in the the case, Justice Samuel Alito said the government had failed to prove the mandate was the most effective — and least intrusive — way to guarantee access to birth control for all women.
At issue was whether the federal government could compel for-profit companies to pay for contraceptive coverage for their employees. The two businesses that brought the case, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, argued that the mandate violated their religious liberty, and that they should be exempt.
Crucially though, the plaintiffs did not argue that the entire mandate should be tossed. Hence, the ruling was relatively narrow, with the high court declining to strike down the mandate wholesale, and adding that women effected by the ruling may still get free, government-subsidized contraceptive coverage.
Still, the decision could have wide-ranging implications. Several dozen other for-profit companies have filed suits challenging the mandate. Given the crux of the ruling, more could now try to claim the religious exemption, too.