The contraception wars are officially on in the federal courts. Yesterday a federal judge Colorado judge issued an injunction blocking the birth control mandate under the Affordable Care Act and allowing legal challenge to its constitutionality to move forward.
It’s the first loss for the Obama administration in the twenty-four lawsuits filed in challenge of the mandate, guaranteeing the issue works its way through the federal appellate courts, likely even to the Supreme Court.
This ruling applies only to the plaintiffs who challenged the suit- a Catholic owned HVAC company that is self-insured- and will not prevent the rule from going into effect next Wednesday. But just because the ruling is narrow in its application doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. In order for the judge to issue the injunction he needs to believe the challenge would likely succeed on the merits. In this case it means Judge John L. Kane, a President Carter appointee believes the court could ultimately find the policy unconstitutional.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she was “disappointed” in the ruling.
“We are confident that as this case moves through the courts, the policy that most health insurance plans cover contraception will be upheld,” Sebelius said. “Preventive services are critical to women’s health and the Administration is committed to ensuring women have access to the health care they need regardless of where they work. Health decisions should be between women and their doctors, not their employers.”
The court ordered the parties to file their joint case management plan by August 27 to expedite the case, which means we will have a ruling from the district court right as the presidential election heats up.
Photo from nateOne via flickr.