The court unanimously “decided” not to decide whether the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Instead, they asked everyone to work out a compromise in the court of appeals.
The issue is whether religious employers (such as universities and hospitals) must participate in the Affordable Care Act requirement for health plans to provide no-cost contraception for women.
That mandate includes birth control pills, contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion pills.
The court wants religious employers and the government to find a solution that “accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.”
The lawsuit, Zubik v. Burwell, was filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor and several other religious employers who don’t fit the narrow exemption to the contraceptive mandate given to churches.
Five appeals courts ruled in favor of the contraceptive mandate. One has ruled against. Those decisions have been “vacated,” meaning erased. Now, armed with new information both sides submitted to the Supreme Court, the lower courts have been asked to reconsider.
The decision essentially hits the “pause” button on a highly-controversial aspect of Obamacare. The court also avoids a 4-4 tie and delays further rulings until a new justice is appointed to the Supreme Court.
Source: Supreme Court