Americans United Attorney Comments on New Supreme Court Birth Control Case

The Supreme Court granted Priests For Life v. Department of Health & Human Services, East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, and Geneva College v. Burwell cases this afternoon. Our senior litigation counsel Gregory M. Lipper issued the following statement:

These cases are not about whether employers have to provide coverage for birth control: the government has already exempted them from doing so. But the plaintiffs refuse to take yes for answer. Instead, they claim the right to prevent their employees from getting contraceptive coverage from third parties, who will be providing the coverage and no cost to—and with no involvement from—the plaintiffs. Seven of eight federal appeals courts have rejected these unprecedented challenges, and we hope that the Supreme Court does the same.

While the plaintiffs in these cases are all nonprofit organizations, if they succeed then employees of for-profit corporations—including multibillion dollar chains like Hobby Lobby—will also be left in the lurch. In fact, in ruling for Hobby Lobby last year, the Supreme Court told the government to extend this accommodation to for-profit companies, so that those companies' employees could receive contraceptive coverage from third parties. If even the accommodation is struck down, tens of thousands of employees who work for for-profit corporations will lose contraceptive coverage as well.

Far from raising actual burdens on religious exercise, these cases make a mockery of religious freedom. We hope that the Supreme Court rules that the plaintiffs have no right to veto their employees' efforts to obtain reproductive coverage from others, and that the Court will preserve contraceptive coverage for the tens of thousands of women who will be affected by these decisions.