U.S. top court sharply divided on Obamacare contraception mandate

WASHINGTON, March 25 Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:20am EDT

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WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court showed no clear consensus on Tuesday about whether business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama's healthcare law requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control.

During the first half of an oral argument, three justices from the court's liberal wing vigorously defended the so-called contraception mandate by firing repeated questions at the lawyer, Paul Clement, who asked the court to strike it down.

As the 90-minute argument continued, conservatives began to give similar treatment to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the Obama administration lawyer defending the mandate.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Howard Goller)

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