Priests for Life v. Dept. of Health and Human Servs, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Burwell

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: November 6, 2015
  • Case #: 14-1453, 14-1505
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 772 F.3d 229 (D.C. 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 Affordable Care Act requires all employers to cover contraception or face a penalty, unless the employer falls under an exception. Petitioners are the Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Washington and a Catholic, non-profit organization organized in 1991 to spread message of the Catholic Church on the value of human life by opposing contraception, sterilization, and abortion. Petitioners do not eligible for an exception to the ACA requirements. Respondent created a scheme of “accommodations” to address concerns of the Petitioners, which allow religious organizations to apply for a waiver whereby employees pay separately for contraception.
Petitioners brought suit on the grounds that the ACA accommodations violated the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA). The D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals found for Respondents on the grounds that Petitioners did not show that they suffered a substantial burden on their religious exercise, as required by RFRA.

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