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Supreme Court sets briefing schedule in contraceptive challenge

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday set the dates for religious nonprofit organizations who are challenging the health care reform law's so-called contraceptive mandate to file briefs.

The Supreme Court ordered the plaintiffs to file opening briefs by Jan. 4 and the respondents to file briefs by Feb. 10.

The plaintiffs' reply briefs are due by March 11, according to the order.

Earlier this month, the nation's high court granted the religious nonprofit groups' request to challenge the health care reform law's contraceptive rule and consolidated the seven cases.

The reform law requires religious nonprofit employers to offer their employees free prescription contraceptives or pass the obligation to their health insurers or third-party administrators.

The plaintiffs say the coverage requirement and the federal government's accommodation violate their rights under the U.S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing them to provide contraceptives that they believe are immoral.

Oral arguments are expected to follow in spring.