Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


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Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: November 26, 2013
Case #: 13-354
723 F.3d 1114 (10th Cir. 2013)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/12/12-6294.pdf

Constitutional Law: (1) Whether The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) permits a for-profit corporation to deny employees health coverage for contraceptives which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law; and(2) whether application of the contraceptive-coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act violates free exercise rights.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employment based group health plans must provide certain heath services, one being contraceptives. Petitioners, Christian run for-profit corporations, challenge the contraceptive requirement under The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling government interest. 

The district court denied Petitioners' request for injunctive relief. The Circuit Court reversed, remanded and held that RFRA does not exclude for-profit corporations and that Free Exercise rights may extend to some for-profit organizations. Additionally, the court held that the contraceptive requirement placed a substantial burden on Petitioners' Free Exercise right and that there was no compelling government interest making Petitioners likely to succeed on their RFRA claim. 

The Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide (1) whether The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) permits a for-profit corporation to deny employees health coverage for contraceptives which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law; and(2) whether application of the contraceptive-coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act violates free exercise rights. 

Consolidated with: Conestoga Wood Specialities Corp. v. Sebelius (Case # 13-356 )