“Your reasoning would permit requiring profit-making corporations to pay for abortions,” Justice
The administration's lawyer warned that the court would be adopting a "dangerous principle" if it gave employers a right to exempt themselves from federal laws based on their religious beliefs.
But Chief Justice
The women justices —
"You would see religious objectors come out of the woodwork," Kagan said.
But the five conservative justices sounded as if they stood in opposition to the contraceptives mandate.
The justices were hearing a politically charged clash over a provision under Obamacare that requires all new health insurance plans pay for contraceptives, including the "morning after" pill and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.
Catholic bishops and some evangelical Christians opposed this rule, arguing that it forces employers to be complicit in what they consider to be a sin by paying for drugs that may destroy a fertilized egg.
The administration and women's rights advocates say contraceptives are a basic health right for women, preventing both unplanned pregnancies and abortions.
The case also raises the question of whether for-profit corporations can invoke the religious beliefs of their owners in order to seek an exemption from federal law.
David and Barbara Green, founders of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores, sued and won an exemption from a lower court.
Verrilli argued that for-profit corporations do not have a right to religious liberty that trumps federal law.
But Paul Clement, the former solicitor general under President