Supreme Court Sends Notre Dame Contraception Case Back to Lower Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to reconsider its decision denying the University of Notre Dame an injunction against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive-care mandate, Reuters reports.

A provision of the law commonly known as Obamacare requires that employers’ health plans cover contraception. But religious nonprofit organizations such as Notre Dame can opt out of the requirement, shifting the burden to a third-party provider at no cost to the organization. Still, religious groups have objected, saying that facilitating the use of contraception, even indirectly, violates their religious beliefs.

Last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied the university the injunction it sought because to allow it would force its insurance companies, which were not party to the lawsuit, to pick up the tab for contraceptive care. Later in the year the Supreme Court ruled that the government could not compel some companies to offer contraceptive coverage if they objected on religious grounds.

The Supreme Court’s action nullifies the appeals court’s denial and sends the case back for reconsideration, but it does not represent the justices’ ruling on the merits of the issue, which has been the subject of contradictory decisions from the federal courts.

Just last month, a federal appeals court ruled that opting out of the mandate did not impose a substantial burden in the case of a Christian college in Pennsylvania.

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