WASHINGTON -- Su- preme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday denied a request to block part of the federal health care law that requires employee health-care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception pills.
Hobby Lobby Stores and a sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government, claiming the mandate violates the religious beliefs of its owners.
In an opinion, Sotomayor said the stores fail to satisfy the demanding legal standard for blocking the requirement on an emergency basis. She said the companies may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts.
Company officials say they must decide whether to violate their faith or face a daily $1.3 million fine beginning Jan. 1 if they ignore the law.
Attorneys for the government have said the drugs do not cause abortions and that the U.S. has a compelling interest in mandating insurance coverage for them.
New senator: Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz on Wednesday was appointed the state's next U.S. senator, bucking the dying wishes of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye to win the support of Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Schatz, a 40-year-old former nonprofit CEO who ran with Abercrombie for the state's top two offices in 2010, beat out U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Esther Kiaaina, a deputy director in the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. The three candidates were selected by state Democrats earlier in the day.
$6.50 per hour: Chicago soon will have the nation's most expensive downtown parking meters. On New Year's Day, meters in the city's downtown Loop area will begin charging $6.50 an hour -- up from $5.75. A report from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says the rate change will make Chicago the city with the most expensive metered parking. The company that operates the meters plans to have all machines set to new rates by the end of February.
Mandela released: Former South African President Nelson Mandela was released Wednesday from the hospital in Johannesburg after being treated for a lung infection and having gallstones removed, a government spokesman said. The 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon will continue to receive medical care at home. Mandela had been in the hospital since Dec. 8.
Husband charged: The husband of a police officer who was fatally shot while patrolling in suburban Milwaukee on Christmas Eve has been arrested in connection with her death. The Wauwatosa police department says in a statement today that Benjamin Sebena was booked into Milwaukee County Jail Wednesday night on a tentative charge of first-degree intentional homicide. He has not been formally charged in 30-year-old Jennifer Sebena's death. Police officers discovered Sebena's body a couple of hours after she failed to respond to radio calls early on Christmas Eve.