Little Sisters of the Poor vs. Pennsylvania Amicus Brief

IDENTITY AND INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE:

Inner Life Fund and Institute for Faith and Family, as amici curiae, respectfully submit that the decision of the Third Circuit should be reversed.

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT

The First Amendment has never been confined within the walls of a church, as if it were a wild animal needing to be caged. On the contrary, the Constitution broadly guarantees liberty of religion and conscience to individual citizens and entities, particularly organizations established for religious purposes.

But since the enactment and implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 42 U.S.C. 18001 et seq., the Contraceptive Mandate (the “Mandate”) imposes crippling financial penalties unless Petitioner complies with a legal directive that guarantees free access to contraceptive drugs and related services through their employee health insurance plans—in direct conflict with the religious faith that motivates their lives and missions. 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4). This Mandate attacks liberties  Americans have treasured for over 200 years—liberties no one can be required to sacrifice as a condition for participating in the public square. The Mandate is as great an assault on conscience as the constitutional evil of compelling citizens to support religious beliefs they do not hold. It is anathema to the basic First Amendment principle that the government may not coerce its citizens to endorse or support a cause. The so- called “accommodation” at issue in these cases is a thinly veiled method of compliance. As the Government’s own rules explain, a group health plan complies with the Mandate through the “accommodation” process. 26 C.F.R. § 54.9815- 2713A(b)-(c); 29 C.F.R. § 2590.715-2713A(b)-(c); 45 C.F.R. § 147.131(c). Through this process the Government compels employers—including religious organizations—to assist their employees in obtaining contraceptives and abortifacents.

ARGUMENT:

  1. THE THIRD CIRCUIT HAS DEPARTED FROM THIS NATION’S LONG HISTORY OF RESPECT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND CONSCIENCE.
    1. Federal law has long respected the conscience rights of both patients and health care professionals.
    2. States provide broad constitutional and statutory protection for liberty of conscience.
    3. Like many successful Free Exercise cases, this case involves conscientious objectors—not civil disobedience.
  2. THE LEGALITY OF CONTRACEPTION DOES NOT JUSTIFY COERCED FACILITATION BY UNWILLING PRIVATE EMPLOYERS.
    1. Abortion is a highly controversial, divisive issue.
    2. Religious freedom should not be dismantled to coerce private entities to facilitate reproductive rights.
    3. No person has a constitutional right to free contraception.
    4. Accommodation of a private employer’s conscience does not threaten any employee’s fundamental rights.
    5. The Mandate does not leave conscientious objectors with a viable alternative to provide health benefits to their employees.
  3. THE THIRD CIRCUIT’S APPROACH DEMONSTRATES HOSTILITY TO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND CONSCIENCE.
    1. Even in the commercial sphere, believers do not forfeit their constitutional rights.
    2. The arguments are even more compelling where the employer is a religious organization.
  4. IT WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE TO SATISFY THE DEMANDING “COMPELLING INTEREST” OR “LEAST RESTRICTIVE MEANS” PRONGS OF RFRA.
    1. The Mandate is premised on a condescending rationale that demeans women.
    2. Other factors are responsible for the progress of gender equality over the past several decades.
    3. Other factors render it impossible to establish the required causal link between the Mandate and gender equality.
  5. IRONICALLY, THE MANDATE WEAKENS CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION FOR EVERYONE—INCLUDING THOSE WHO ADVOCATE IMPOSING IT ON UNWILLING PRIVATE EMPLOYERS.

CONCLUSION:

This Court should reverse the Third Circuit decision.

AMICUS BRIEF:

Read the rest of the Amicus Brief here.

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