Zubik, et al. v. Burwell, et al. (U.S. Supreme Court, 2016)

U.S. Supreme Court ,

This case involves a second challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, which generally requires employers to provide employee health insurance inclusive of prescription contraception coverage. Religiously-affiliated organizations challenged a provision of the mandate, which actually accommodates their free exercise of religion by allowing them to opt out of providing contraception coverage. Under the accommodation, such organizations are required to file a one-page form with the Department of Health and Human Services. After the form is filed, they have no responsibility for the coverage. Rather, an insurance company or third party pays for and administers it. However, petitioners argue that the filing requirement violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). ADL’s amicus brief focuses on RFRA’s “substantial burden” requirement. It argues that petitioners have failed to demonstrate that filing form is a substantial burden on their free exercise of religion. Rather, they have merely asserted subjective offense of their religious beliefs, which should not be conflated with objective substantial burdens on religious exercise. The brief further argues that assessment of substantial burden should also include impact on the rights of others. In this case, striking down the opt-out provision would deny women access to affordable contraception, but at most alleviate indirect and minimal burdens on the petitioners. Balancing these interests, the Court should reject the petitioners’ claim.