WASHINGTON, May 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday deferred deciding whether faith-based groups should be required to provide coverage for contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
The justices unanimously returned religious groups' appeals to the lower courts, saying both sides should try working out their differences.
The Obama administration wanted insurance companies and plan administrators to handle coverage of religious groups that don't want to provide birth control for employees or students. But some faith-based groups said they would still play a role in providing something that is linked to abortion.
In an unsigned opinion, the court said it "expresses no view on the merits of the cases."
"Nothing in this opinion, or in the opinions or orders of the courts below, is to affect the ability of the government to ensure that women covered by petitioners' health plans 'obtain, without cost, the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives,' " the court said.
The court announced in November it would hear the challenge.
The newest challenge was the fourth time the Supreme Court heard a challenge to President Barack Obama's signature legislation and the second challenging the contraceptive mandate. In 2014, the court ruled "closely held" for-profit companies, such as Hobby Lobby, could decline to cover contraceptives in employer-provided health plans.
The justices granted review to seven similar cases, including a challenge from the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns that provides care to the elderly poor.