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Zubik vs. Burwell (Obamacare)
Status: Arguments Heard March 23, 2016, Decided on May 16, 2016
The United States Supreme Court in November consolidated seven cases challenging Obamacare’s birth-control mandate into one: Zubik v. Burwell. The current legal challenge, the fourth to be accepted by the Court since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, involves religious-sponsored non-profit corporations.
These institutions object on moral grounds to an Obamacare provision that allows their employees to obtain contraceptive coverage through their health insurance, even if those contraceptive products are provided by insurance companies and the government, instead of the institutions.The groups argue that even indirect participation in such a plan is offensive, and they want to be included in a broader Obamacare exception extended to churches, synagogues and worship-based employers.
The federal government believes that religiously oriented non-profit institutions such as hospitals and universities have numerous employees who don’t share the beliefs of religious groups that sponsor the non-profits, and these workers would be harmed by the exclusions.
On May 16, the Court said it won’t decide this dispute over Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate and religious rights, telling lower courts and the parties involved to find a compromise solution. In an unsigned five-page opinion in the Zubik v. Burwell case, the Court reached the conclusion that “in light of the positions asserted by the parties in their supplemental briefs, the Court vacates the judgments below and remands to the respective United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth, and D. C. Circuits.”