Obamacare Contraception Mandate Blocked at the Last Minute

Justice Sotomayor issued an emergency stay to delay the requirement that religious groups pay for birth control in employee health coverage

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George Bridges / AP

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 13, 2009

Correction appended: Jan. 1, 2014, 9:50 p.m. E.T.

In the final hours of 2013, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a request from religious groups in the U.S. to block part of the Affordable Care Act requiring companies to pay for contraceptives in employee health coverage regardless of religious beliefs. Acting on a request from an order of Catholic nuns in Denver, she issued a stay on the Obamacare provision.

Catholic groups in the U.S. requested the mandate be delayed while the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals considers a legal challenge from craft-store chain Hobby Lobby challenging the law on the grounds that it infringes on religious liberty, NBC News reports. As the Justice overseeing the 10th Circuit, the decision to grant the stay fell to Sotomayor, whose busy New Year’s Eve also included helping ring in 2014 in New York City by lowering the iconic Times Square ball.

The government will have until Friday to respond.

An earlier version of this article gave the wrong first name for the Supreme Court Justice. She is Sonia Sotomayor, not Sandra.

[NBC News]