But when an Appeals Court has considered the mandate’s actual legal merits, either from a company or its owners, it has blocked the mandate. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals did so and held that both a for-profit corporation and its owners may sue over the contraception mandate. The D.C. Circuit said only the individual owners could sue—and sided with them against the birth-control policy.
The Justice Department and the Hobby Lobby have asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling—a rare combination that makes the justices likelier to hear it. Allowing the 10th Circuit’s ruling to stand would “transform … a shield for individuals and religious institutions into a sword used to deny employees of for-profit commercial enterprises the benefits and protections of generally applicable laws,” the Justice Department said in its brief asking the Supreme Court to step in. Because four of the five Circuit Court decisions have been appealed to the high court, legal experts say the justices might combine two or more cases just to be sure they answer all the relevant questions at once.