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Obamacare Contraceptive Rule Questioned at U.S. Supreme Court

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- A divided U.S. Supreme Court debated whether companies can assert religious rights, hearing arguments in an ideological clash over President Barack Obama’s health-care law and rules aimed at promoting contraceptive coverage.

The 90-minute session marked the Supreme Court’s first look at the law since the justices upheld its core provisions in 2012. At issue is whether two family-owned companies are entitled to a religious exemption from the requirement that employers cover birth control as part of worker-insurance plans

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. are asking the court to give for-profit corporations the same religious freedoms as individuals, with potentially sweeping rights to opt out of laws they say are immoral. A victory for the companies would put a dent in a health-care law that remains under siege on multiple fronts.

The justice most likely to be in the middle, Anthony Kennedy, asked questions of both sides and didn’t give a clear indication which way he will vote.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark McQuillan at mmcquillan@bloomberg.net

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