Religious Freedom Restoration Act—Challenge to Contraception Rule

Zubik v. Burwell, No. 14-1418
Priests for Life v. HHS, No. 14-1453
Roman Catholic Archbishop v. Burwell, No. 14-1505
E. Tex. Baptist Univ. v. Burwell, No. 15-35
Little Sisters v. Burwell, No. 15-105
S. Nazarene Univ. v. Burwell, No. 15-119
Geneva College v. Burwell, No. 15-191

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers must provide coverage to employees for preventive care or incur penalties. That mandate has been interpreted to require employers to provide access to FDA-approved contraceptives. The federal government permits a religious non-profit institution to satisfy that mandate by filing a form indicating that it has a religious objection to providing contraceptive coverage. Upon receipt of such a form, the Department of Health and Human Services informs the insurer or third-party administrator of the applicable plan to provide no-cost access to the covered contraceptives. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), Congress may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion absent a compelling government interest that is narrowly tailored to that end. The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to decide whether the contraception mandate’s workaround for religious non-profit employers complies with RFRA.