Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Justice Sonia Sotomayor blocked implementation of portions of Obamacare that would have forced religion-affiliated organizations to provide health insurance for employees that includes birth control, abortifacients, and sterilizations.
Her decision came Tuesday evening after Catholic-affiliated groups from around the nation rushed to the federal courts to stop the portions to take effect January 1st. She acted on a request from Catholic nuns in Colorado whose request for a stay had been denied by the lower courts.
Sotomayor gave the government until Friday morning to respond.
This was a last minute effort by the Catholic organizations, which included the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Catholic University and the Michigan Catholic Conference.
Obamacare dictates that the government makes the decision as to what is or is not a religious organization and who has the right to conscience. The definition is so narrow that it excludes all religious colleges, schools, hospitals, and charitable facilities.
The justices have already accepted the cases of businesses that seek to use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control, abortifacients, and sterlizations for employees. The court will consider two cases involving Hobby Lobby Inc., an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Pennsylvania company that employs 950 people in making wood cabinets.
Hobby Lobby won in the lower courts while Conestoga Wood Specialties lost. The combined cases probably will be argued in late March with a decision coming by summer.
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