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CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM- Cleveland, Ohio — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sent a celebrated case involving a dispute between religious employers and the Obama administration on the requirement under the Affordable Care Act for employer-paid birth control for women back to the lower court for a potential compromise.
Faith-based groups object to the birth control mandate on religious grounds.
Obamacare advocates are calling the Supreme Court ruling a win that clears the way for free birth control from religious employers while opponents say they have won a reprieve. Time will tell.
President Obama, whose presidency and policies have not only helped Blacks but also women, praised the ruling and said that its effect is that for now working women will be able to get employer-paid birth control under the Affordable Care Act, a federal law more commonly known as Obamacare, a 2010 overhaul of the nation's healthcare system.
The controversy has unleashed a feud between Obama's attorneys and authorities of the Catholic Church regime.
The lead plaintiff in the case against the federal government is the Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh with the nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor also on board.
Last month the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case.
The Obama administration had hoped to narrow their frustrations with an accommodation that the faith-based groups have rejected as unsatisfactory. One lower appellate court agrees.
Some six federal appeals accessing several cases have upheld the accommodation offered by the Obama administration as constitutional while the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis has ruled that it violates the rights of religious groups.
The accommodation permits complaining religious employers to object and withdraw from involvement but allows insurers to approve the contraceptives to women employees at no charge.
The rare move by the nation's high court relative to its three page decision on Monday suggests an inside 4-4 split by the justices and is an example of how the death earlier this year of longtime conservative justice Antonin Scalia and his absence from the bench as one of the nine justices have impacted court decisions.
The justices simply lacked the majority to rule one way or another, legal experts have said.
The justices, instead, issued an unsigned unanimous decision in the case, which affects other cases on the issue and affiliated appellate court rulings, and stated in relevant part that "the court expresses no view on the merits of the cases."
The matter almost certainly would not come before the Supreme Court again until after the 2016 presidential election, making that election even more pivotal as to the liberal-conservative 4-4 make-up of the court, give or take moderate positions sometimes exhibited by Chief Justice John Roberts, the swing vote on the constitutional legality of Obamacare.
Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to replace Scalia but Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have stalled on Senate confirmation hearings.