The recent HHS mandate that every American business offer insurance plans that include contraception
has been incredibly controversial and has been used as a political weapon by both parties. For those issuing the mandate and those opposing it, the political theatre surrounding the HHS mandate is not the main event. That main event is taking place in America’s courtrooms as firms founded by those who oppose contraception sue to be able to avoid the mandate and the federal government under the direction of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Attorney General Eric Holder vows to defend the mandate to the very end.
The first victory for those opposed to the HHS mandate came in the summer of 2012 when a federal district judge in Colorado granted a preliminary injunction preventing the federal government from enforcing the mandate against Hobby Lobby, a Colorado-based company whose owners consider the mandate and affront to their religious beliefs. The ruling was rooted in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 which was passed by Congress to ensure that everyone’s religious beliefs are protected.
More importantly, in November 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had ruled in favor of the government, to revisit a lawsuit filed against the HHS. This one action by the highest court in the land breathed new life into the battle against the HHS mandate and all but ensured that the mandate would be judged by the Supreme Court at some point in the near future.
There are several reasons most observers feel that at least one of the cases against the mandate will end up on the Supreme Court docket. The various cases involve an issue as old as America itself, religious freedom, and organizations of every major faith have spoken out in opposition to the mandate. The mandate is also part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and that is a law that remains very controversial with roughly half the country in support and the other half in opposition. With such a split in the country it may be incumbent upon the Court to bring clarification on the issue of the HHS mandate.
Finally, there are so many cases in opposition to the HHS mandate that the Supreme Court may have no recourse but to address the issue. In just one day in 2012, a total of 12 individual cases were brought against the mandate, which was unprecedented, but also indicative of the passion held by those who see the law as a direct threat to their religious freedom and a full frontal assault against the United States Constitution. Whatever the outcome of the cases against the HHS mandate, the eventual and almost certainly inevitable ruling on the issue by the Supreme Court will be one of the more landmark decisions ever handed down.