ACLU Responds to Final Supplemental Briefing in Zubik v. Burwell Supreme Court Case

April 20, 2016 4:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today received supplemental reply briefs in Zubik v. Burwell, a case brought by religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations that object on religious grounds to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health insurance companies cover contraception and to the process by which these employers can opt out of providing the coverage.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling responded with the following:

“What we have said about this case all along remains true: The employers are asking for permission to impose their religious views on their employees. They have failed at every turn to propose any alternative that would ensure that their employees have access to contraceptive coverage without barriers. The proposals from the religious employees — now as always — are demeaning to women, unworkable, and discriminatory. Religious liberty is a fundamental value in this country, but religion cannot be used to discriminate against others.”

A religiously affiliated non-profit organization or a closely held for-profit corporation can currently lodge an objection with its insurer or the federal government. The insurance company then provides contraception coverage directly to the employees in a separate insurance plan. Zubik v. Burwell is a consolidation of seven cases from lower courts. To date, nine circuit courts have addressed the argument before the court — that the opt-out process violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Eight circuit courts, including the four circuit courts that decided the cases currently before the court, have rejected the claim.

This case is only one occasion in which institutions are arguing their religion beliefs entitle them to discriminate or to deny services. More than 100 bills have been introduced in 2016 alone that threaten to allow public officials and businesses to turn people away because of who they are.

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