According to a news report in The Washington Post, the issue to be clarified is whether employers with religious objections may refuse to provide employees health care coverage for contraceptives, which is mandated by the ACA (see “Agencies Clarify Required Coverage for Contraceptives”). The cases generated opposing results when heard by separate federal appellate courts.
In the first case, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Kathleen Sebelius et al., the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the plaintiff/employer, citing the fact that forcing the employer to comply with the relevant portion of the ACA would violate another law, namely the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In the second case, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services et al., the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the employer, citing an absence of case law to support a for-profit, secular company exercising religion.
The cases will be consolidated for an oral argument before the Supreme Court, tentatively set for March 2014, says the news report.
The full text of the opinion in Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Kathleen Sebelius et al. can be found here.
The full text of the opinion in Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services et al. can be found here.