(NATIONAL JOURNAL) — The Supreme Court won't strike down Obamacare's contraception mandate, but a ruling for the law's challengers could still render the policy toothless for millions of women.
The justices are set to rule any day now in a challenge to the birth-control mandate, and any decision against the policy would have ripple effects far beyond the two companies that filed this lawsuit. Just how far, however, depends on how broadly the Court rules—and it has plenty of options.
No matter what happens, the Court won't strike down the entire mandate. The two companies that brought their challenge to the Supreme Court—Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties—haven't asked the justices to ax the entire policy.
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The most sweeping option is a broad First Amendment proclamation that all corporations have a fundamental right to exercise religion, in this case by refusing to cover birth control in their employees' health care plans. This outcome would be almost a sequel to the Citizens United case on campaign finance laws and free speech. It would probably open the door for any company to challenge a slew of state or federal regulations, and would allow any corporation to avoid the contraception mandate—potentially affecting millions of women.