With a Supreme Court ruling with the potential to cripple Obamacare just around the corner, a federal appeals court in a separate case has dealt a setback to the law’s enforcement – at least temporarily.
After initial losses, the group Priests for Life on Wednesday secured an injunction from facing federal penalties for not abiding by the Department of Health and Human Services mandate that employers provide insurance that includes the cost of contraception.
The U.S. Court of Appeals from Washington, D.C. – which previously ruled against the religious nonprofit – granted the injunction of enforcement until the Supreme Court decides on the matter.
“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted our motion to stay the mandate, meaning that the injunction protecting us from the mandate will remain in place while the Supreme Court considers our case,” Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said in a statement.
“Without the stay granted today, we would have been in the position of being fined for failing to comply with the mandate,” Pavone continued. “But no matter what happens, we will not obey the mandate, nor will we pay fines to the government.”
The organization filed a petition Tuesday asking the Supreme Court to hear the case challenging the HHS mandate.
The D.C. appeals court’s three-judge panel rejected the complaint from Priests for Life in November 2014, and in May, a majority of judges on the full appeals court refused to rehear the case.
The legal move on this front of the Obamacare legal battles comes as the Supreme Court is set to rule on the King v. Burwell case involving subsidies for people enrolled in the federal exchange. The high court will decide on how literal the words “established by the state,” written into the Obamacare law should be interpreted.
The plaintiffs contend the legislative language clearly means that tax subsidies to buy health insurance can only be available to states that established their own health exchanges. That leaves out 37 states that didn’t set up an Obamcare marketplace. The Obama administration argues the language broadly meant all exchanges were eligible for federal tax subsidies. Residents in states without the exchange could potentially be priced out of the market without subsidies.