Source Bill Mears/CNN Supreme Court Producer
Washington (CNN) — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that closely held companies cannot be required to pay to cover some types of contraceptives for their employees, ending its term with a narrow legal and political setback for a controversial part of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.
In a 5-4 decision, the high court’s conservatives essentially ruled that some for-profit corporations have religious rights.
The owners of Hobby Lobby, furniture maker Conestoga Wood Specialties and Christian bookseller Mardel argued that the Affordable Care Act violates the First Amendment and other federal laws protecting religious freedom because it requires them to provide coverage for contraceptives like the “morning-after pill,” which the companies consider tantamount to abortion.
The decision, which comes two years after the justices narrowly preserved the Affordable Care Act and its key funding provision, could serve as a primer for other pending challenges to the health law.Photos: Tody’s Supreme Court
The issue before the justices was whether Obamacare could mandate contraception coverage specifically for certain businesses that object for religious reasons.
“This case isn’t that practically important, except for the employees and businesses involved. There just aren’t a huge number of those,” said Thomas Goldstein, publisher of SCOTUSblog.com and a Washington appellate attorney.
“But everyone can agree the social questions presented — about when people can follow their religious convictions, and when people are entitled to contraception care — are truly important,” he said.
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