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A Supreme Feud Over Birth Control: Four Blunt Points

Anti-abortion advocates cheer in front of the Supreme Court after the decision in Washington, on June 30
Anti-abortion advocates cheer in front of the Supreme Court after the decision in Washington, on June 30Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Get ready for a long period of acrimony and confusion over whether companies and nonprofits invoking religious beliefs can evade the Obama administration’s requirement that employers providing health insurance cover birth control for female employees.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on June 30 in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case that closely held, for-profit corporations may invoke religious liberty to avoid compliance with the contraception-coverage mandate in the president’s 2010 health-care reform law. Then on July 3, an unspecified majority of the high court temporarily exempted a Christian college from a modest paperwork obligation imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—an obligation that the conservative majority appeared to have endorsed just four days earlier in Hobby Lobby.