U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Contraception Mandate as Applied to Closely-Held Businesses

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell, ruling in favor of the Christian businesses that challenged the constitutionality of the Obamacare contraception mandate as applied against for-profit businesses. The mandate required for-profit corporations to provide insurance plans that cover contraceptives, abortifacients, and related services. In its ruling, the Court held “that the regulations that impose this obligation violate [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act], which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.”

Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), which filed a “friend of the court” brief in the Supreme Court in support of this challenge to the mandate, commented:

“The Court’s ruling today is a significant victory for religious freedom. President Obama and his secular progressive cannot subject our fundamental freedoms to arbitrary government power or societal preferences. Fortunately, the Court struck down this oppressive and unconscionable mandate for these family-run businesses.”

David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, remarked:

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects religious beliefs and the rights of conscience that flow from those beliefs as a matter of federal law. Consequently, the Supreme Court rightly struck down this unconscionable attack on religious freedom.”

AFLC is currently challenging the mandate on behalf of an Ohio-based, family run business, Johnson Welded Products, Inc., and its owner, Ms. Lilli Johnson, a Catholic who objects to this mandate. Today’s ruling will ensure a victory in that case, which is pending in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

AFLC is also challenging the mandate as applied to non-exempt religious employers. In this case, which is currently awaiting decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, AFLC is representing Priests for Life, a nonprofit, Catholic organization; Father Frank Pavone, the National Director of Priests for Life; Dr. Alveda King, the niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Pastoral Associate and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life; and Janet Morana, the Executive Director of Priests for Life.