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Supreme Court Sends Birth Control Case Back To Appeals Court

University of Notre Dame contends that the act of signing a form opting out of the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate makes the school complicit in providing coverage.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered a federal appeals court to take a second look at the University of Notre Dame's challenge to the birth control mandate in Obamacare, and the rules for opting out of the required coverage.

The law allows religious charities and educational institutions to opt out of providing employee and student birth control coverage by signing a one-page form.

But Notre Dame contends that the act of signing that opt-out form makes it complicit in providing coverage that the Catholic university objects to on religious grounds.

In 2014, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the university, but that was prior to the Supreme Court's decision last June declaring that some for-profit companies are exempt from the contraception mandate, based on the religious objections of the corporation's owners.

Since then two other appeals courts have ruled that the law, from the get-go, gave charitable and educational nonprofits something that for-profits didn't have — a way out if the employer has a religious objection.

So, now the Supreme Court has sent the Notre Dame case back for a second look in light of its June ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.

Religious-liberty advocates called the court's unsigned order on Monday a major victory. There were no recorded dissents.

But it is entirely possible that the appeals court will reach the same conclusion that it did before. That would undoubtedly lead to a second trip to the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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