- Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect for-profit corporations?
- Does the contraceptive-coverage Mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 violate corporations’ religious exercise rights?
As part of the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") adopted a mandate requiring that employment-based health plans covered by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") include twenty contraceptive methods. Two corporations, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, sued, objecting on religious grounds to the inclusion of four of the methods because they prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. The corporations argue that the Mandate offends their religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA") and the Free Exercise Clause. The government argues that corporations do not have these rights; and, in any case, the Mandate is statutorily and constitutionally permissible. The Supreme Court will consider whether for-profit corporations can sue under RFRA or the Free Exercise Clause, and whether this mandate violates corporations’ right to exercise religion. The Court’s ruling may significantly impact foundational principles of corporate law and the scope of corporations’ First Amendment rights. This case will also impact the Affordable Care Act’s power to mandate health plans.
Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) 42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq., provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest. 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1(a) and (b). The question presented is whether RFRA allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation's owners.
Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius
Whether the religious owners of a family business, or their closely-held business corporation, have free exercise rights that are violated by the application of the contraceptive-coverage Mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“ACA”).
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), employment-based health care plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) are required to provide coverage for certain preventative health services. SeeHobby Lobby v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114, 1122 (10th Cir.
- David H. Gans, What Side Has Corporate America Taken in the Hobby Lobby Challenge?, Slate (Feb. 4, 2014, 5:01 PM),
- Brian Solomon, David Green: The Biblical Billionaire Backing the Evangelical Movement, Forbes (Sep. 18, 2012, 7:51 AM),