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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Many employers with a religious or moral objection to contraception don't have to cover birth control in their workers' health care plans, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The big picture: The court has been wrestling for years with religious objections to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate. Today's 7-2 ruling put the court's stamp of approval on a relatively broad set of exemptions.

How we got here: The Obama administration, as part of its implementation of the ACA, required all employer-based health insurance plans to cover all federally approved forms of contraception, with no co-pays or other cost-sharing for workers.

  • That requirement has been challenged in court several times, and the Supreme Court has consistently sided with employers seeking exemptions from the rules.
  • It created the first exemption in 2014. After the Obama administration tried to rewrite the rules in response, the court made it try again.
  • Then the Trump administration came in and created new, broader exemptions. Critics sued, saying the administration hadn't followed the proper procedures for writing those rules. Tuesday's ruling rejected that claim, saying the Trump administration acted within its legal authority.

Where it stands now: Companies that aren't publicly traded only need to assert a moral objection — not necessarily a religious one — to gain an exemption from the coverage requirement. Any employer can seek a religious exemption.

  • Religiously affiliated universities are exempt, as are houses of worship.

Go deeper

Biden on court packing: It "depends" how the Barrett confirmation is "handled"

Joe Biden said at an ABC town hall on Thursday night that he will come out with a clear position on court packing by Election Day, but that his answer on the issue will depend on how the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is "handled."

The state of play: Biden said he has "not been a fan" of expanding the court because it would change the court's makeup depending on who the president is. But he signaled he would be "open to considering what happens" if Republicans push through Barrett's confirmation before the election without proper debate in the Senate.

1 hour ago - Health

U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines

A health care worker administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Ruleville, Mississippi. Photo: Rory Doyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. is now vaccinating an average of 2 million people a day, up from 1.3 million in early February.

Why it matters: That puts us on track to hit President Biden's goal of 100 million doses a month ahead of schedule.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, a procedural move that will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate.