ADL Files Amicus Brief Defending Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Mandate

New York, NY, February 18, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court defending a key provision in the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.

Joined by a diverse group of religious and civil rights organizations, the ADL brief argues that the provision, which actually accommodates religiously affiliated groups by allowing them to opt-out of providing employee contraceptive insurance coverage by filling out a one-page form, does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Multiple religiously affiliated groups argue that this accommodation provision violates their beliefs by making them complicit in providing contraception coverage. Once the form is filed, however, such groups have absolutely no responsibility in paying for or administering the coverage.  ADL’s amicus brief in Zubik v. Burwell argues that “a mere assertion of religious offense” as opposed to a true burden on religious exercise cannot be a basis to strike down a law.

Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director, issued the following statement:

We take the petitioners at their word that filing the one-page form to opt out of the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage violates their religious beliefs.  But that mere assertion of religious offense cannot be a basis to strike down this or another law, especially when the desired outcome would conflict with the rights of others. A ruling to the contrary would create a dangerous precedent in our religiously diverse society.  Allowing one’s religious beliefs to be an effective veto of virtually any federal law or rule would undermine our country as a nation of laws.

An affront to religious beliefs and an objective burden on religious exercise must be treated differently in the eyes of the law. They should not be conflated. A court reviewing a claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act should require a demonstration of an objective, substantial burden on religion, and take into account the impact on the civil rights of others. In this case, the court should reject the petitioners’ claim because the mandate provision imposes at most an indirect and minimal burden, which is more than outweighed by the right of women to have access to affordable contraception.

The following religious and civil rights organization’s joined ADL’s brief:

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice; Hindu American Foundation; Interfaith Alliance Foundation; Japanese American Citizens League; The Jewish Social Policy Action Network; Keshet; National Council of Jewish Women; The Organization of Chinese Americans; People for the American Way Foundation; Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; Religious Institute; and the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.

The friend of the court brief filed in the case, entitled Zubik, et. al v. Burwell, et. al, was prepared by the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, led by Carolyn Thomas, Esq.