On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to take two cases where Obamacare collides with religious liberty and is sure to capture national attention.
The Affordable Care Act requires most employers to provide “preventive care.” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a regulation carrying the force of law, interpreting that ACA provision as requiring employers to provide coverage for birth control, including forms that cause abortion.
Religious employers passionately objected, especially Evangelicals and Catholics, as Breitbart News has previously reported in detail. Even many within the Obama administration objected to this unprecedented infringement on religious liberty, reportedly including White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
But hard-liners prevailed, with rumors around Washington, D.C. attributing the rare trumping of the chief of staff to Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s closest adviser and possibly the most powerful person in the president’s inner circle.
The federal appeals courts have split on whether the regulation violates religious liberty under either a federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Now the Supreme Court will settle the matter.
The first case is Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, a Mennonite family business represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom. The other is Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the home crafts giant owned by the Green family, who are Evangelicals, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The cases have been consolidated to be argued together in one hour of oral argument, which will be scheduled for March or April. A decision is expected before July 2014.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.