Geneva College v. Burwell

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law:
  • Date Filed: November 7, 2015
  • Case #: 15-191
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit: 778 F.3d 422
  • Full Text Opinion

Petitioner is a religious nonprofit organization affiliated with Christian beliefs. Petitioner has a religious objection to the mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires health care coverage of contraceptives. Petitioner’s provide health care coverage for its employee’s and students, but does not want to include in their health plan the four FDA-approved contraceptives that possibly have an abortifacient effect.

Petitioner first filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and the district court granted Petitioner’s requests for a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed, holding the accommodation process of “opting out” of the mandate imposed no “substantial” burden under the Religious Restoration Freedom Act (RFRA).

Petitioners argument is the RFRA provides “very broad protection for religious liberty” and this mandate under the ACA imposes a burden on their religious beliefs by forcing them to provide medical items that they disagree with on religious grounds. As well, they argue the Third Circuit ruling is contrary to the Hobby Lobby case, which held that for profit corporations have the right to exclude contraceptive in their health care plans if it imposes a significant burden on their religious beliefs. Petitioners argue this protection should extend to non-profit organizations like themselves.

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