Justices say birth control ruling should be interpreted broadly

The Associated PressJuly 1, 2014 

— The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.

The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings in favor of businesses that object to covering all 20 methods of government-approved contraception.

Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby Inc. and a Pennsylvania furniture maker won their court challenges Monday in which they refused to pay for two emergency contraceptive pills and two intrauterine devices.

Tuesday’s orders apply to companies owned by Catholics who oppose all contraception. Cases involving Colorado-based Hercules Industries Inc., Illinois-based Korte & Luitjohan Contractors Inc. and Indiana-based Grote Industries Inc. were awaiting action pending resolution of the Hobby Lobby case.

They are among roughly 50 lawsuits from profit-seeking corporations that object to the contraceptive coverage requirement in their health plans for employees. Contraception is among a range of preventive services that must be included in the health plans, at no extra cost to workers.

The justices also ordered lower courts that ruled in favor of the Obama administration to reconsider those decisions in light of Monday’s 5-4 decision.

Two Michigan-based companies, Autocam Corp. and Eden Foods Inc., both lost their cases in the lower courts. The justices ordered the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decisions against the companies.

The Supreme Court also announced that it would hear appeals in a pair of cases.

The first is a pregnancy discrimination claim by a package delivery driver for UPS who was refused a light duty assignment so she could continue working while pregnant.

UPS driver Peggy Young lost her health benefits when UPS would not grant her light duty or allow her to continue her regular job. Young says the company allows employees with some medical conditions to perform jobs in which they can avoid lifting heavy packages. She returned to work after giving birth.

In the second case the Supreme Court will consider whether a whistleblower can move forward with a lawsuit claiming that defense contracting giant KBR Inc. falsely billed the government for work in Iraq.

The justices on Tuesday said they will hear the company’s appeal of a lower court decision that reinstated former employee Benjamin Carter’s lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act.

A federal judge had thrown out the case, ruling that it was filed after a six-year deadline passed. But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said such cases can be filed past the deadline when the country is at war. The appeals court also rejected KBR’s argument that Carter wasn’t first to file his claims, as the false claims law requires.

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