Though it appeared that birth control-loving Americans had been dealt a swift kick to their genitals with Justice Sonia Sotomayor's decision to grant a temporary delay for some religiously affiliated groups who want exemption from the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate, the nuance of the call is actually much less frightening.
Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., as pointed out by MSNBC, is the larger of the cases, in that the Court's decision on it will have far-reaching ramifications. Paired with Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, the cases involve the Court determining whether a for-profit, private sector company can, under the Affordable Care Act, deny their employees birth control coverage, "based on the religious objections of the corporation's owners" or because of the "religious owners of a family business." Those cases are currently in motion, though court dates have not yet been set.
In contrast, the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged et al. vs. Sebelius case is much smaller, in that the groups concerned are not-for profit religious organizations. In writing that they are "temporarily enjoined from enforcing against applicants the contraceptive coverage requirements," Sotomayor has allowed the Obama administration to decide if those organizations can be given an exemption from birth control implementation the way that churches and other religious institutions have already been allowed to. The groups that have filed are arguing that as the law stands now, they have to fill out paperwork so that employees who want contraception can get it from a separate insurance company, paperwork they don't feel comfortable filling out. Many groups have been granted injunctions like the one Sotomayor gave out. This ruling would apply only to these groups that have filed.
MSNBC's Irin Carmon explains further:
Those cases are slightly different, because the Supreme Court has yet to decide whether for-profit groups even have religious liberty, let alone if requiring that employee insurance plans cover birth control violates it. In the nonprofit cases, the government has already chosen to treat religiously-affiliated nonprofits differently. The question will be whether filling out a form is still a violation of religious freedom.
In granting the temporary injunction, Sotomayor asked that the Obama administration respond by Friday. Depending on what they say, she'll issue a ruling herself or pass the case up to the rest of the Supreme Court to be heard.
Images via Andre P. Kissel/AP and Little Sisters of the Poor