New challenges to birth-control mandate (UPDATED)
on Dec 31, 2013 at 4:36 pm
UPDATE 11:21 p.m. In a case from the Tenth Circuit Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked enforcement of the mandate against the institutions in that case, while she awaits a response from the federal government, due by 10 a.m. on Friday. Four separate applications were filed from different fcderal Circuits, but not all sought immediate relief.
Several groups of Roman Catholic universities, schools, and charity organizations on Tuesday afternoon began filing a series of requests for the Supreme Court to delay enforcement of the contraceptive mandate in the new federal health care law.
Arguing that the mandate will go into effect tomorrow for those organizations, and their refusal to obey it will result in heavy financial penalties, they asked the Court to block that enforcement or to grant immediate review of their pleas without waiting for federal appeals courts to rule.
Because the requests come from at least four different federal regional circuits, they will be submitted initially to the Justices who handle emergency matters for those circuits. Each of those Justices has the option of acting on them alone, or sharing the issue with their colleagues. Since there are going to be at least four such applications, it seems likely that the full Court will opt to act on them, perhaps together.
The Court has already agreed to hear constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate on birth control and other pregnancy-related services, in the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores (docket 13-354) and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius (13-356). The Court has not yet scheduled those cases for oral argument. Briefing in those two is now in progress.