Supreme Court to Consider HHS Mandate Petitions

Supreme Court to Consider HHS Mandate Petitions

Millions of Americans should learn in three weeks whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take a case challenging Obamacare’s HHS Mandate for violating religious liberty.

The media has been covering Korte v. HHS, where on Nov. 8 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down Kathleen Sebelius’ regulation that implements a provision of the Affordable Care Act by requiring employers to provide abortion and contraception in their healthcare plans.

The only religious exemption is for churches and other purely-religious employers. But countless secular and for-profit businesses are wholly owned by people of faith, who treat how they run their business as part of how they practice their religious faith, and object to providing products or services they regard as immoral or sinful.

Five federal appellate courts have ruled on the issue thus far. Three have sided with religious business owners, and two have sided with the Obama administration.

On Sept. 18, Breibart News broke the news that the first of these cases has been offered to the Supreme Court when lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a petition with the justices in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. Later that same day, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, which ruled in favor of the Green family in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.

Two other federal appeals courts have weighed in on the issue. On Nov. 1, the D.C. Circuit sided with religious business owners in Gilardi v. HHS in a well-written opinion by Judge Janice Rogers Brown. And on Sept. 17, the Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit supported President Obama and Secretary Sebelius.

Judge Diane Sykes’ excellent opinion for the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit in Korte has deepened this national split in the federal courts. But despite the significant media attention that decision is getting, last week’s opinion is probably the end of the line for Korte.

This is because the Supreme Court has now scheduled the petitions from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga for the justices’ closed-door conference on Nov. 26. The results of that conference could be released that afternoon or, more likely, will be announced when the Court holds its next session on Dec. 2.  

It is virtually certain the Supreme Court will take one or both cases. If review is granted, arguments will be in March or April, with a final decision on this issue before July 2014.

Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News and on faculty at Liberty University School of Law. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.

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