Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Little Sisters of the Poor Go to the High Court

As expected, the Supreme Court will decide this term (that is, by the end of June 2016) whether the so-called “accommodation” to the HHS contraceptive mandate that the Obama administration has offered religious nonprofits violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Hint: Yes, it does.) What wasn’t widely expected is that the Court granted review of all seven pending certiorari petitions (instead, say, of granting one or two and holding the remainder in the meantime).

One reason for the Court to grant all seven is that there are various arguments that attempt to distinguish one challenger from another based on the details of their insurance arrangements. By granting review in all cases, the Court maximizes the prospect that it will be able to provide a comprehensive answer to the question whether the mandate-with-the-accommodation violates RFRA.

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