The Contraceptive Mandate Controversy and the Future of Religious Accommodations in the United States: A Study of the US Supreme Court Case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (2014)
Religion & Human Rights 10 (2015), published by Brill
26 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2020
Date Written: June 2015
With its expected decision on the Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Supreme Court adjudicated over the “Contraceptive Mandate”, a regulation of the Healthcare Reform that aroused religious concerns as it requires companies offering health insurance to its employees to cover contraceptives. Recognizing for the first time that private companies are “persons” exercising religion, the Court declared that the Mandate violates their religious freedom and exempted them from covering contraceptives.
The Article argues that the restrictive interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) here proposed, by granting strong protection to corporations’ religious claims over their employees’ interest in equal access to health care, may lead to the proliferation of religious accommodations far beyond this controversy. Yet, the Article concludes that this dangerous scenario can be limited by taking into consideration the impact of religious accommodations on third parties’ rights, as imposed by an interpretation of RFRA consistent with the Establishment Clause.
Keywords: Religious freedom; Contraceptive Mandate; Establishment Clause; Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Anti-discrimination law; Employee rights; Religious accommodation; Reproductive Rights
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