Little Sisters v. Burwell, Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: November 6, 2015
  • Case #: 15-105, 15-119
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 794 F.3d 1151 (10th Cir)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the process to receive an accommodation under the Affordable Care Act, which allows a non-profit religious organization to not pay for mandated coverage of contraception, relieves the substantial burden under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

The Petitioner is a non-profit religious employer challenging the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) interpretation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). HHS interprets the ACA to mean that employer’s who provide health insurance must provide “preventative care” coverage for women, consisting of all available FDA-approved contraception. Employer’s that fail to comply are assessed a penalty. Under the ACA, some religious organizations are exempt from compliance with this requirement, but Petitioner’s are not an exempted religious organization. The HHS adopted a regulatory mechanism that allows non-profit organizations to opt out without penalty. The Tenth Circuit held that this regulatory mechanism relieves the requirement to provide “preventative care” coverage in a manner that does not burden religious exercise.

Petitioner asks the court to decide (1) whether the regulatory mechanism eliminates the burden on religious exercise, and (2) whether HHS can override Petitioners sincerely-held religious objections and require Petitioners to comply with the regulatory mechanism option even though this regulatory mechanism will not fulfill the regulatory objective of providing free “preventative care."

Advanced Search