“A federal appeals court in Denver sided with Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. on Thursday in its legal battle against part of the Affordable Care Act. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals moved to reverse a lower court’s decision to deny Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.’s quest for an injunction against part of the Affordable Care Act that requires it to cover the cost of emergency contraceptives for some of its employees.”

“The complaint focuses on the law’s distribution of federal subsidies for Americans to purchase insurance, and whether people can get them if they live in one of the 33 states that have refused to set up their own insurance exchanges and have left that task up to the federal government.”

“Facing increasing losses in federal courts over Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, the Department of Health & Human Services last week promulgated a rule to expand exemptions for religious nonprofits. That sounds good, but what the government is actually doing is a sort of accounting shell game: employers will no longer have to pay for the products/services to which they objects, but the government requires them to contract with an insurance company that the government then requires to provide these products/services to employees who want them ‘for free.'”

“A willow, not an oak. So said conservatives of Chief Justice John Roberts when he rescued the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — a.k.a. Obamacare — from being found unconstitutional. But the manner in which he did this may have made the ACA unworkable, thereby putting it on a path to ultimate extinction.”

“After losing a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court, craft stores chain Hobby Lobby said it would defy a federal healthcare mandate requiring employers to provide their workers with insurance that covers emergency contraceptives. The Oklahoma City-based chain, owned by a conservative Christian family, had applied to the high court to block a part of the federal healthcare law ordering companies to offer insurance that covers contraceptive drugs, including the so-called morning-after pill.”

“Thus, having transformed the individual mandate into a tax, the court may face renewed challenges to ObamaCare on uniformity grounds. The justices will then confront a tough choice. Having earlier reinterpreted the mandate as a tax, they would be hard-pressed to approve the geographic disparity created when states opt out of the Medicaid expansion. But that possibility is inherent in a scheme that imposes a nominally uniform tax liability accompanied by the practical equivalent of a fully off-setting tax credit available only to those living in certain states. To uphold such a taxing scheme would eliminate any meaningful uniformity requirement—a result that the Constitution does not permit.”

“Dozens of lawsuits have been filed in protest of the Obama administration’s policy that most employers include no-cost coverage of FDA-approved prescription contraceptives in health plans. Churches and some — not all — religious organizations are exempt. But more than three dozen for-profit and nonprofit organizations have gone to court, citing religious objections to the birth control coverage rule, which itself is part of the women’s health provisions in the controversial health law.”

“The Supreme Court gave its definitive ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act in June. But that hasn’t stopped three other legal challenges to core provisions of Obamacare — including the mandates and subsidies — that could unravel big parts of the law if they succeed.”

“I just cannot get over that blow against not only sound jurisprudence and the rule of law — bad enough — but against the legitimacy of our government altogether. By recognizing that Obamacare was unconstitutional but shying away from striking it down, John Roberts fundamentally shook my faith in our system of justice.”

“During oral arguments in the Supreme Court challenge to the individual mandate, NFIB v. Sebelius, the plaintiff’s lawyer Paul Clement warned the justices not to make the same mistake they made in the 1970s with Buckley v. Valeo. In Buckley, the Court upheld portions of the post-Watergate campaign-finance reforms while invalidating others. The result was a muddled statute that Congress and the courts would repeatedly revisit for years to come. Repeating this approach with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Clement cautioned, could produce similar undesirable results. It’s too soon to know how quickly Congress will revisit the PPACA, but Clement’s warning already seems to be coming true in the courts.”