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Contraceptive Rule Lawsuits Tally: Women Are Winning 2-1, and the Cases Are Headed to the Supreme Court

Brigitte Amiri,
Deputy Director,
ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
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September 19, 2013

Soon the Supreme Court could decide whether for-profit employers have the right to discriminate against their employees based on their religious beliefs.

Today we learned that two petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court regarding challenges to the Obama administration’s contraception coverage rule. One was filed by Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, after its request for a preliminary injunction against the law was denied when the Third Circuit ruled that the company was unlikely to succeed in its challenge to the rule. The other was filed by the federal government in response to a contrary ruling by the Tenth Circuit in a challenge filed by Oklahoma-based craft supply chain Hobby Lobby.

Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit, which issued its ruling on Tuesday, was the third federal court of appeals to issue a decision on whether the contraceptive rule under the Affordable Care Act should be preliminarily blocked. After its request for preliminary injunction was denied, the company in that case vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court too.

So in the federal courts of appeals, women are winning 2-1.

We have filed briefs in all of these cases, and many more, arguing that the federal contraception rule does not substantially burden the company’s religious beliefs. Providing employees with a benefit – like paying their salary – that some employees may use to obtain health care that their employer finds objectionable, does not infringe on the company’s religious beliefs. While religious liberty is a fundamental right, the courts have not allowed religious beliefs to be used to deny others benefits or services or to be used to discriminate against others.

We are watching all of these cases carefully and anticipate that we will see decisions from other federal courts of appeals soon. We hope that the other courts of appeals and the Supreme Court recognize that religious beliefs cannot be used to deny women health care coverage.

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