The following is an excerpt from an article that appears on the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project. To see the full article, click here.

Imagery“[Today] March 25, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging regulations arising from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 (sometimes referred to as “Obamacare”), which requires many employers to include free coverage of contraceptive services in their employees’ health insurance plans. Both cases – Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius – involve challenges by for-profit businesses whose owners object to the mandate on religious grounds.

A separate series of cases involving challenges to the contraception mandate by religiously affiliated nonprofits also is working its way through the federal court system. While one or more of those lawsuits may soon reach the high court, they are different from the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases, which concern only for-profit businesses.

How did these cases arise, and how did they reach the Supreme Court?

Regulations arising from the ACA require many employers to include free coverage for contraceptive services in their employees’ health insurance plans. The regulations entirely exempt churches and provide religiously affiliated nonprofits, such as hospitals and charities, an alternative mechanism for ensuring that their employees are covered. But those accommodations do not extend to for-profit employers who may also object, for religious reasons, to providing their workers with some or all kinds of artificial birth control.

The owners of a number of these businesses – including arts-and-crafts retail chain Hobby Lobby and cabinet-maker Conestoga – sued the federal government, claiming that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) entitles them to some form of relief from the mandate based on their religious objections.”

To read the full article, which details the circumstances that have led up to and are involved in these cases, click here.