Liberals Worry As Supreme Court Takes Up Birth Control Mandate

In announcing it will hear these two cases, the Supreme Court will ultimately determine whether corporations are people and if for-profit companies may impose the religious beliefs of the owners on the employees.

The Supreme Court made it official Tuesday: it will have the final say on whether Obamacare's birth control mandate is constitutional. And progressives are worried.

The two cases it announced it will hear are about the health care law's requirement that employer-provided insurance plans cover contraceptives for women without co-pays. They have potentially far-reaching legal and political implications, and is set to be heard next spring with a decision expected by the end of June 2014, during mid-term election season.

As expected, the Court agreed to take up a case brought by Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based for-profit retail chain with devout Christian owners who argue that the Obamacare requirement violates their religious freedom. The organization objects to covering contraceptives Plan B, Ella and two kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs), all of which are designed to prevent pregnancy. Hobby Lobby won the case at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court also agreed to hear a case brought by Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. on the same question. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the organization, saying for-profit businesses may not challenge the mandate on religious grounds.

The conservative tilt of the Supreme Court has progressives and proponents of the mandate worried. Four justices voted last year to wipe out Obamacare in its entirety and the swing justice decided to strike down parts of it.

The article goes on to point out:

"No court, prior to the handful of courts that have accepted the corporate challenges to the ACA's contraception mandate, has ever ruled that a secular, for-profit business is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of religious free exercise," said Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center. "If the Supreme Court were to hold in this case that commercial enterprise could claim a right to the free exercise of religion, it would mark a sea change in free exercise jurisprudence and take to the corporate personhood concept we saw expressed in Citizens United to a ridiculous extreme."

Read the full article at Talking Points Memo