Last week, as the nation paid rapt attention, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. The decision is especially critical for women, who are more likely to suffer gaps and discrimination in their health care coverage. Importantly, it means that the contraceptive coverage rule – which ensures access to affordable birth control for millions of women across the country – is still in place.
That same day, the Supreme Court made a second decision about the ACA to a much quieter reception. The Court declined to hear Seven-Sky v. Holder, a case alleging that the ACA’s individual mandate provision violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute that precludes federal laws from placing a “substantial burden” on religious exercise unless the government has a compelling interest in enacting the law. Here, the plaintiffs argued that they “believe in trusting in God to protect [them] from illness or injury,” and therefore did not “want to be forced to buy health insurance coverage.”