The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, continue to express their views as to why the HHS mandate violates their faith. This short video highlights Green family members discussing their faith and how it informs all their decisions.
Last week, over 80 amicus briefs were filed with the Supreme Court on both sides of Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the HHS contraceptive-abortifacient mandate. Here’s what you need to know about amicus briefs and their role in this case.
What is an amicus brief?
An amicus brief is a learned treatise submitted by an amicus curiae (Latin for “friend of the court”), someone who is not a party to a case who offers information that bears on the case but that has not been solicited by any of the parties to assist a court. The amicus brief is a way to introduce concerns ensuring that the possibly broad legal effects of a court decision will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case.
Who can submit an amicus brief?
While any interested party can contribute or sign an amicus brief, it can only be filed only by an attorney admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. After filing, the Court decides whether it will accept the brief. Supreme Court Rule 37 provides that an amicus curiae brief which brings relevant matter to the Court’s attention that has not already been brought to its attention by the parties is of considerable help to the Court. An amicus brief which does not serve this purpose burdens the staff and facilities of the Court and its filing is not favored.
Do amicus briefs have any influence on Supreme Court rulings?
Mona Charen, writing for National Review Online, notes that the image-conscious Obama Administration has not been very careful about choosing it foes in the HHS mandate fight. Wanna pick a fight? How about some Catholic sisters?
The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Catholic charity providing care to the poorest elderly in a hospice-like setting. They serve 13,000 people in 31 countries, and operate 30 homes in the United States. Their faith calls them to treat every person, no matter how old, disabled, or poor, as if he or she were “Jesus himself.” There is no religious test for admission, only that you be poor and in need of care at the end of life. Think thousands of Mother Teresas.
“It was extremely unwise of Obama to take on the Little Sisters of the Poor,” says Robert P. George, “They are simply too strong an opponent. What was he thinking?”
Prof. George was commenting on the fact that on Friday the Little Sisters received a permanent injunction from the Supreme Court protecting them from the controversial HHS mandate while their case is before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals:
The injunction means that the Little Sisters will not be forced to sign and deliver the controversial government forms authorizing and instructing their benefits administrator to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and drugs and devices that may cause early abortions (see video). The Court’s order also provides protection to more than 400 other Catholic organizations that receive health benefits through the same Catholic benefits provider, Christian Brothers.
“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund. “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people–it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”
While the University of Notre Dame has decided to comply with the HHS mandate requiring employers to cover contraception, abortifacients and abortions in employee health insurance, the University of Dallas continues to fight the mandate.
The University of Dallas, a Catholic institution founded in 1910 by the Vincentian Fathers, received a preliminary injunction on January 2, 2014, that would relieve the university of the necessity to comply with the mandate. (more…)
Notre Dame University announced yesterday that it will comply with the HHS mandate requiring employers to include contraception, abortifacients and abortion coverage in health care packages for employees. The university made the announcement after a federal judge last week denied the university’s request for exemption of the Obama administration’s law. An emergency stay was also denied by the Seventh District Court of Appeals. Failure to comply with the law means the university would now have to pay fines of $100 per day for each employee.
The university decided to comply with the “accommodation” offered by the Obama administration:
Having been denied a stay, Notre Dame is advising employees that pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, our third party administrator is required to notify plan participants of coverage provided under its contraceptives payment program,” said Paul Browne, Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications, according to WNDU. “As part of an ongoing legal action, however, the program may be terminated once the university’s lawsuit on religious liberty grounds against the HHS mandate has worked its way through the courts.”
On Monday, the Eastern District Court of New York State struck down a lower court’s decision that the Catholic Archdiocese of New York had to comply with the HHS mandate requiring all employers to provide artificial birth control, abortifacients and abortion coverage as part of employee health care. Here are 6 things you need to know about this decision.
- There are a lot of cases out there against the HHS mandate. What makes this decision special?
This case is important…because it recognizes that even the act of having to claim the exemption is an unacceptable burden on religion…The Archdiocese of New York, and many other religious organizations, pointed out that the act of self-certifying is itself a violation of its religious beliefs and sued.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a pair of cases that challenge the HHS mandate requiring many private companies to insure contraceptive and abortifacients. The Obama administration asked the high court to review the issue after a federal appeals court in Colorado found in favor of Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based crafts franchise. The court will combine the Hobby Lobby case with lesser-known case involving Conestoga, a Pennsylvania company that lost earlier bids for relief from the mandate.
If you haven’t been following the controversy, here’s what you need to know about the mandate:
What is this contraception mandate everyone keeps talking about?
As part of the universal health insurance reform passed in 2010 (often referred to as “Obamacare”), all group health plans must now provide—at no cost to the recipient—certain “preventive services.” The list of services includes sterilization, contraceptives, and abortifacient drugs.
If this mandate is from 2010, why are we talking about it in 2013?
On January 20, 2012, the Obama Administration announced that that it would not expand the exemption for this mandate to include religious schools, colleges, hospitals, and charitable service organizations. Instead, the Administration merely extended the deadline for religious groups who do not already fall within the existing narrow exemption so that they will have one more year to comply or drop health care insurance coverage for their employees altogether and incur a hefty fine
Is there a religious exemption from the mandate? If so, who qualifies for the exemption?
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a “special letter” regarding the Obama administration’s HHS mandate. The USCCB, meeting this month in Baltimore, passed the letter unanimously.
Calling the HHS mandate “coercive,” the bishops state that they have tried to work with the current administration, to no avail.
Beginning in March 2012, in United for Religious Freedom, we identified three basic problems with the HHS mandate: it establishes a false architecture of religious liberty that excludes our ministries and so reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship; it compels our ministries to participate in providing employees with abortifacient drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception, which violates our deeply-held beliefs; and it compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all. (more…)
The Thomas More Society stated today in a press release that they are working with Catholic Vote Defense League in a fight to seek “constitutional protection of religious freedom.” Specifically, they have filed a cert petition with the Supreme Court for the case, Autocam Vs. Sebelius. They are petitioning
the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ recent decision, denying the claims of Autocam, an international automotive manufacturer, and its owners, that Obamacare’s so-called “HHS mandate” abridges their federal constitutional and statutory rights to the free exercise of their religious faith as well as other legal rights. John Kennedy, CEO of Michigan-based family-owned company, Autocam, joined the company as well as its other family owners to urge the Justices to rule that the government has no right to require that Autocam purchase group insurance coverage, providing its employees with morally objectionable contraceptives, including abortifacients (e.g., the so-called abortion pill, Plan B, and “Ella”), and sterilization.
See the press release here. The official petition to the Supreme Court states that “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot mean one thing in one part of the United States and something entirely different in another. This Court’s attention is required to sort out the important legal questions HHS Mandate under RFRA.”