Podcast: Religious liberty and the Obamacare contraceptive mandate

Mark Rienzi, attorney, and members of the Little Sisters (credit: Becket Fund)
Mark Rienzi, attorney, and members of the Little Sisters (credit: Becket Fund)

Mark Rienzi, attorney, and members of the Little Sisters (credit: Becket Fund)

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One of the most important cases before the Supreme Court this term is Zubik v. Burwell, which comes to the Court as seven combined cases in one, all brought by religious nonprofits.

Some listeners may know it as the Little Sisters of the Poor case; the Sisters are indeed part of the challenge, but the combined case is named for the first individual case to reach the Court. “Zubik” refers to the Most Rev. David Zubik, the Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh. “Burwell” refers to Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The question at hand: Does the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide free insurance coverage for contraception to female workers violate the religious liberty of those employers?

The answer turns not on the meaning of the Constitution, per se, but on the meaning of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the federal law also central to the Hobby Lobby case decided two years ago.

Joining We the People to parse the issues in this case and to predict how the Court will rule (or not rule) are two leading experts on religious liberty and the Constitution.

Greg Lipper is Senior Litigation Counsel at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He is currently lead counsel in University of Notre Dame v. Burwell, in which he represents a Notre Dame student opposing the university’s separate challenge to the contraception mandate.

Michael Moreland is Professor of Law at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, where he teaches and writes on law and religion, among other topics. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame.

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This show was engineered by Jason Gregory and produced by Nicandro Iannacci. Research was provided by Josh Waimberg. The host of We the People is Jeffrey Rosen.

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