April 1, 2014 — The Supreme Court on Monday said it will not review appeals of lower courts' decisions to uphold the federal contraceptive rules in two cases involving the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, D.C.; Catholic University; and other Catholic not-for-profits, Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Stohr, Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/31).
The contraceptive coverage rules, which are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), require most insurers to offer contraceptive coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans. Houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, and religiously affiliated not-for-profits are eligible for an accommodation that ensures they do not have to pay for or directly provide the coverage for their employees. Private companies are not eligible for an exemption or accommodation (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/2).
The plaintiffs contend that the accommodation for religiously affiliated not-for-profits is inadequate because it requires them to facilitate contraceptive coverage. In December, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked enforcement of the rules for the groups while their cases continue (Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/31).
Upcoming Appellate Court Arguments
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is scheduled to hear the two cases -- Roman Catholic Archbishop v. Sebelius and Priests for Life v. Health and Human Services Department -- on May 8 (Denniston, SCOTUSblog, 3/31).
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, it is unsurprising that the Supreme Court did not take the cases because the plaintiffs had taken the "unusual step of bypassing the intermediate appellate [court]" by appealing directly to the high court (Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/31).
According to Reuters, if the Catholic groups lose at the federal appeals court, they will have the opportunity to again appeal their cases to the Supreme Court (Hurley, Reuters, 3/31).