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Obama Contraception

FILE - This June 30, 2014, file photo shows a demonstrator holding up a sign outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Seeking to quell a politically charged controversy, the Obama administration announced new measures Friday to allow religious nonprofits and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while still ensuring those employees have access to contraception. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON  •  The Supreme Court is ridding itself of a knotty dispute between faith-based groups and the Obama administration over birth control. The court is asking lower courts to take another look at the issue in a search for a compromise.

The justices on Monday issued an unsigned opinion in a case over the arrangement devised by the administration to spare faith-based groups from having to pay for birth control for women covered under their health plans.

The major confrontation over an element of President Barack Obama's health care law is ending with a whimper and with no resolution of the issue the court undertook to decide. The case almost certainly would not return to the Supreme Court until after the 2016 presidential election.

The outcome suggests the court lacked a majority for a significant ruling and is perhaps another example of how the court has been affected by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.