The fight over the federal law that group health insurance include contraceptive coverage — a requirement that some religious organizations have fought down to including a refusal to fill out a form taking an available waiver — won’t be decided yet by the U.S. Supreme Court.
After first asking for more arguments, the court today sent the case back to lower courts for more arguments. The immediate speculation is that this was a way to avoid a 4-4 split on the question, though the opinion doesn’t say that. Rather, it says:
In light of the positions asserted by the parties in their supplemental briefs, the Court vacates the judgments below and remands to the respective United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth, and D. C. Circuits.
Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.”