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Contraceptive Coverage at the Supreme Court Zubik v. Burwell: Does the Law Accommodate or Burden Nonprofits’ Religious Beliefs?

 Appendix 1: Cases to be reviewed by Supreme Court in Zubik v Burwell
Lawsuit Case History Status
Zubik et al. v. Burwell

 

On February 11, 2015, a unanimous 3rd Circuit panel issued a decision that the accommodation does not impose a substantial burden on plaintiffs’ religious exercise. The 3rd Circuit denied plaintiffs’ petition for a rehearing en banc and request for a stay. Zubik et al. filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court asking for a stay. On April 15, 2015, Justice Alito issued a temporary stay allowing the plaintiffs to not comply with the accommodation while the Government submitted a response to the Court (submitted April 20, 2015). In May 2015, the plaintiffs filed a brief requesting that the Supreme Court review the case. On June 29, 2015, the Supreme Court denied the request for a stay, but allowed the plaintiffs to inform the government of their objection, and the government to facilitate contraceptive coverage for the workers and dependents, while the Court decided whether to take the case in the next term.  On November 6, 2015 the Supreme Court granted review on the RFRA challenges but not the First Amendment challenge.
Geneva College v. Burwell On February 11, 2015, a unanimous 3rd Circuit panel issued a decision that the accommodation does not impose a substantial burden on plaintiffs’ religious exercise. The 3rd Circuit denied plaintiffs’ petition for a rehearing en banc and request for a stay. On May 18, 2015 the 3rd Circuit granted Geneva College (which did not join the emergency petition to the Supreme Court) a temporary stay pending a response and further orders by the Supreme Court in Persico and Zubik. In August 2015, Geneva College filed a brief requesting the Supreme Court to review the case. On November 6, 2015, the Supreme Court granted review.
Priests for Life v. HHS; Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington  v. Burwell The DC Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the accommodation does not impose a substantial burden on plaintiffs’ religious exercise, the regulations advance compelling government interests, and the regulations are the least restrictive means. Plaintiffs petitioned for a re-hearing en banc asking the full D.C. Circuit to rehear the case. On May 20, 2015 DC Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request for an en banc hearing. In June 2015, the Priests for Life and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington filed briefs asking the Supreme Court to review the case. The DC Circuit Court has stayed enforcement pending the Supreme Court’s decision on whether to take the case. On November 6, 2015 the Supreme Court granted review for both cases.
East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that accommodation does not impose a substantial burden on plaintiff’s religious exercise. RFRA does confer the right to challenge independent conduct of third parties. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision on June 22, 2015. In July 2015, the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court.  On November 6, 2015 the Supreme Court granted review.
Southern Nazarene University et al. v. Burwell U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and then stayed proceedings until March 1, 2014. The government appealed to the 10th Circuit. The 10th Circuit issued a decision on July 14, 2015, denying Southern Nazarene University a stay. On July 24, 2015 the plaintiffs submitted a brief requesting the Supreme Court to review the case. On November 6, 2015 the Supreme Court granted review.
Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell 

 

The Supreme Court granted plaintiffs’ emergency application for an injunction pending appeal on the condition that they file notice with HHS that they are organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objection to contraceptive coverage. Following the government’s issuance of interim final rules amending the accommodation for nonprofit, the parties filed supplemental briefs addressing the impact of those rules on the case The 10th Circuit issued a decision on July 14, 2015, denying Little Sister of the Poor a stay. On July 28, 2015, the plaintiffs submitted a brief requesting the Supreme Court to review the case. On November 6, 2015 the Supreme Court granted review, but will not consider the question about whether RFRA is violated by treated houses of worship differently than religiously affiliated nonprofits.
Issue Brief

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