By Cherri Gregg
HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Now that a US Supreme Court justice has temporarily blocked a provision of the Affordable Care Act that would have forced some religious-affiliated organiztions to provide health insurance that includes birth control (see related story), a Pennsylvania company is hoping the order will have widespread impact.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s one-page decision applies only to a group of Colorado-based nuns, but attorney Randy Wenger of the Independence Law Center, based in Harrisburg, is hoping the ruling has a broader reach.
He represents Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, a group of Mennonite cabinetmakers based in East Earl, Pa., near Morgantown, who filed a lawsuit challenging the the same birth control mandate.
“If the governoment can force people to violate their most deeply held convictions,” Wenger said today, “there’s no stopping what other liberties they can take away from us.”
Wenger’s case goes before the US Supreme Court in March.
“At least Justice Sotomayor recognizes that there could be a religious freedom issue with the mandate,” he told KYW Newsradio today.
But Carol Tracey, of the Women’s Law Project, based in Philadelphia, is confident the mandate will stand.
“Obamacare has been more than generous in making compromises for religious organizations,” she says.
She notes that the Affordable Care Act excludes churches from the mandate that requires them to buy health insurance that includes birth control. Religious-affiliated organizations that serve the general public and private companies are not excluded.
“That’s the issue,” says Tracey, “and the Supreme Court will resolve this.”
It’s unclear how long Justice Sotomayor’s decision will remain in effect. The government was expected to respond by 10am tomorrow.