The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a challenge from religious nonprofit groups to federal government’s contraceptive mandate. Here are some answers to questions you may have about that case.
What is this case and what’s it about?
The case the Supreme Court will hear, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, combines seven challenges to the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) contraceptive mandate.
To fulfill the requirements of the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka ObamaCare) the federal government passed a regulation (often called the “HHS Mandate”) that attempts to force groups into providing insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients. Some religious groups, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, objected on the ground that the requirement violates their religious liberty as protected by the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). HHS offered an accommodation which the Little Sisters found to be insufficient.
The Supreme Court will decide, as SCOTUS Blog explains, whether the government has offered nonprofit religious employers a means to comply and whether the whether HHS satisfies RFRA’s test for overriding sincerely held religious objections in circumstances where HHS itself insists that overriding the religious objection will not fulfill HHS’s regulatory objective—namely, the provision of no-cost contraceptives to the objector’s employees.
What was the accommodation and why was it rejected?