The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday sent three cases involving companies seeking exemptions from the Obamacare law's birth control coverage requirement back to lower courts for further review based on its major ruling on the issue.
The court's action indicates that its ruling on Monday allows closely held companies to object on religious grounds to all forms of contraceptives covered by the birth control mandate in President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law.
The court ruled 5-4 in cases involving two companies, Hobby Lobby Stores Ltd and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp, but it did not rule on six other petitions involving similar objections that were pending.
The court sent three of these back to appeals courts for further review in light of Monday's decision. In all three, the companies object to all use of contraception, unlike Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, which only objected to contraceptives they say are akin to abortion.
By declining to decide the cases separately, the court signaled that the ruling on Monday resolves all religious objections to the birth control mandate in favor of the companies.
One involves Michigan companies Autocam Corp and Autocam Medical LLC, which are owned and operated by a Catholic family, including Chief Executive Officer and President John Kennedy.
A second case was brought by another Michigan company, Eden Foods Inc, which is owned by Michael Potter, a Roman Catholic.
Both companies were appealing decisions by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the government.
The third and fourth petitions involve Catholic brothers Francis and Philip Gilardi, owners of Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics. That case was sent back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In two separate cases where the government appealed rulings it lost in lower courts, the court simply denied the appeals, leaving the lower court rulings intact.
The court also acted on six other cases that were on hold pending resolution of a challenge to Obama appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. In last week's ruling, the court held that Obama exceeded his authority in making three appointments to the labor board without Senate approval even though the Senate was technically in session.
The court on Tuesday sent two of the cases back to lower courts for further review.
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