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In a closely-watched case, the United States Supreme Court (5-4) has ruled that closely-held corporations cannot be required to provide contraceptives coverage (as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)) as required by the Affordable Care Act. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Store, Inc. et al. No. 13-354 (June 30, 2014).


Regulations promulgated by the HHS pursuant to the Affordable Care Act generally require group health plans to provide coverage for certain contraceptive methods approved by the FDA to women without cost-sharing.


Hobby Lobby, which is a closely-held corporation owned by Christians, opposed this mandate on the grounds that it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and their First Amendment rights.


The Court held that the HHS regulations violate the RFRA. It stated, however, that the ruling only applies to closely-held corporations, reasoning that closely-held corporations are "persons" as defined by the RFRA and, thus, are entitled to the protections offered by that statute. The Court did not rule on the First Amendment issue.


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