Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Eternal World TV Network v. Sec’y of the United States HHS United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (2015)

Gender discrimination

Plaintiff, the Eternal World TV Network—a Catholic network with 350 employees—was required to provide health insurance for its employees, which would include coverage for contraceptives, under the Affordable Care Act. Plaintiff contended that using or providing contraceptives violated a deeply-held tenant of its belief system and that the accommodation provided to religious nonprofit organizations under the Affordable Care Act still amounted to government coercion to change its beliefs. Plaintiff brought suit against the federal government, claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects religious groups. The Eleventh Circuit found that the accommodation did not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because, despite the plaintiff’s right to strict scrutiny review, the accommodation did not substantially burden the exercise of religious tenants and was the least restrictive method of furthering the compelling interest of reducing the rate of unplanned pregnancies. Plaintiff also argued that the accommodation violated the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the United States Constitution, which the court denied, reasoning that the contraceptive mandate was generally applicable: it did not target specifically religious groups or particular denominations.