The petitions for writs of certiorari are granted.” Those eight words, contained in a terse November announcement from the Supreme Court, signaled that the nation’s capital will soon be hit by a constitutional hurricane stirred up two years ago by disregarded legal flaps in far-off courts. At issue is the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, under which all health plans—including those provided by employers such as Catholic hospitals—must provide, free of charge, all FDA-approved contraception, including the morning-after pill.The challenges the court will hear were filed in 2012 by Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties.Both companies operate in accordance with the religious beliefs of their owners, beliefs that include strong moral objections to abortion-inducing drugs. Thus, their lawsuits charge that the mandate infringes upon their religious rights, as guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, by forcing them to pay for employee health insurance that covers such drugs.
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