Bad Decision: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Non-Profit Religious Accommodation For Contraception Coverage

In a baffling decision, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to strike down the ACA contraception accommodations for religious non-profits in the case of Dordt College v. Burwell. 

From the brief:

For the reasons set forth in Sharpe Holdings, we conclude that by coercing
Dordt and Cornerstone to participate in the contraceptive mandate and
accommodation process under threat of severe monetary penalty, the government has
substantially burdened Dordt and Cornerstone’s exercise of religion. Also for the
reasons set forth in Sharpe Holdings, we conclude that, even assuming that the
government’s interests in safeguarding public health and ensuring equal access to
health care for women are compelling, the contraceptive mandate and accommodation
process likely are not the least restrictive means of furthering those interests. Thus,
based on our reasoning in Sharpe Holdings, we affirm the order granting injunctive

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(Read our friend-of-the-court brief for this case.)

This decision makes the Eighth Circuit Court the first circuit to side with a religious non-profit against the government and the ACA accommodations. Why is this court bucking the trend? Unfortunately, it's hard to give a more satisfying answer than the most simple one: a difference in opinion between the courts. Hopefully this is a just a bump in the road along the way to ensuring women have equal access to contraception coverage, no matter where they work.