Justice Sonia Sotomayor Allows Contraceptive Mandate to Begin Next Week


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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an in-chambers opinion denying Hobby Lobby Stores Inc an injunction it had requested to prevent a birth control mandate from beginning on January 1. The mandate is part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), colloquially known as "Obamacare."

Hobby Lobby is arguing that the mandate to provide employees with healthcare coverage that includes preventive care ,such as birth control, conflicts with its first amendment right to freely exercise religion. Many religious Americans believe that birth control, specifically the morning after pill, is in conflict with their beliefs about sex, abortion, and reproduction. The PPACA already has exemptions for churches and other houses of worship, but highly religious business owners are arguing that they should be able to refuse contraceptive coverage for their employees as well.

Sotomayor has not dismissed Hobby Lobby's case against the contraceptive mandate, and stated that she was not deciding whether the company's claims had any merit. Instead, she concluded that the "applicants do not satisfy the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief they seek," referring to the injunction. This means the mandate will take effect at the beginning of the new year.

A Hobby Lobby spokesperson has stated that the company will not be providing the morning after pill for its employees. Hobby Lobby and its affiliated companies face fines of $1.3 million per day if they do not comply with the mandate.