throbber
(Slip Opinion)
`
`
`
` OCTOBER TERM, 2013
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`1
`
` NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
`
`
`
` being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
`
`
`
` The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
`
` prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
`
` See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`
`
` Syllabus
`
`
`
`
`
`BURWELL, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN
`
`SERVICES, ET AL. v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.,
`
`
`
`ET AL.
`
`CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
`
`THE TENTH CIRCUIT
`No. 13–354. Argued March 25, 2014—Decided June 30, 2014*
`The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the
`“Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of
`religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicabil-
`ity” unless the Government “demonstrates that application of the
`burden to the person—(1) is in furtherance of a compelling govern-
`
`mental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering
`that compelling governmental interest.” 42 U. S. C. §§2000bb–1(a),
`(b). As amended by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
`Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), RFRA covers “any exercise of religion,
`whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious be-
`
`lief.” §2000cc–5(7)(A).
`
`At issue here are regulations promulgated by the Department of
`Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Patient Protection and
`Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), which, as relevant here, requires
`specified employers’ group health plans to furnish “preventive care
`and screenings” for women without “any cost sharing requirements,”
`
`42 U. S. C. §300gg–13(a)(4). Congress did not specify what types of
`preventive care must be covered; it authorized the Health Resources
`and Services Administration, a component of HHS, to decide. Ibid.
`Nonexempt employers are generally required to provide coverage for
`the 20 contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Admin-
`
`
`
`
`
`——————
`
`*Together with No. 13–356, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. et al.
`v. Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al., on certiorari
`
`to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`BURWELL v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.
`
`
`Syllabus
`istration, including the 4 that may have the effect of preventing an
`already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its
`attachment to the uterus. Religious employers, such as churches, are
`exempt from this contraceptive mandate. HHS has also effectively
`exempted religious nonprofit organizations with religious objections
`to providing coverage for contraceptive services. Under this accom-
`modation, the insurance issuer must exclude contraceptive coverage
`from the employer’s plan and provide plan participants with separate
`payments for contraceptive services without imposing any cost-
`sharing requirements on the employer, its insurance plan, or its em-
`ployee beneficiaries.
`
`In these cases, the owners of three closely held for-profit corpora-
`tions have sincere Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and
`that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive
`drugs or devices that operate after that point. In separate actions,
`they sued HHS and other federal officials and agencies (collectively
`HHS) under RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause, seeking to enjoin
`application of the contraceptive mandate insofar as it requires them
`
`to provide health coverage for the four objectionable contraceptives.
`
`In No. 13–356, the District Court denied the Hahns and their compa-
`ny—Conestoga Wood Specialties—a preliminary injunction. Affirm-
`ing, the Third Circuit held that a for-profit corporation could not “en-
`gage in religious exercise” under RFRA or the First Amendment, and
`that the mandate imposed no requirements on the Hahns in their
`personal capacity. In No. 13–354, the Greens, their children, and
`
`
`their companies—Hobby Lobby Stores and Mardel—were also denied
`a preliminary injunction, but the Tenth Circuit reversed. It held that
`the Greens’ businesses are “persons” under RFRA, and that the cor-
`porations had established a likelihood of success on their RFRA claim
`because the contraceptive mandate substantially burdened their ex-
`ercise of religion and HHS had not demonstrated a compelling inter-
`est in enforcing the mandate against them; in the alternative, the
`court held that HHS had not proved that the mandate was the “least
`
`restrictive means” of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
`
`Held: As applied to closely held corporations, the HHS regulations im-
`
`posing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA. Pp. 16–49.
`
`(a) RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely
`held for-profit corporations like Conestoga, Hobby Lobby, and Mar-
`del. Pp. 16–31.
`
`
`(1) HHS argues that the companies cannot sue because they are
`for-profit corporations, and that the owners cannot sue because the
`regulations apply only to the companies, but that would leave mer-
`
`chants with a difficult choice: give up the right to seek judicial protec-
`tion of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits of operating as cor-
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`2
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`
`Syllabus
`porations. RFRA’s text shows that Congress designed the statute to
`provide very broad protection for religious liberty and did not intend
`to put merchants to such a choice. It employed the familiar legal fic-
`tion of including corporations within RFRA’s definition of “persons,”
`
`but the purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the
`rights of people associated with the corporation, including sharehold-
`ers, officers, and employees. Protecting the free-exercise rights of
`closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the
`
`humans who own and control them. Pp. 16–19.
`
`
`(2) HHS and the dissent make several unpersuasive arguments.
`Pp. 19–31.
`
`
`
`
`(i) Nothing in RFRA suggests a congressional intent to depart
`from the Dictionary Act definition of “person,” which “include[s] cor-
`
`
`porations, . . . as well as individuals.” 1 U. S. C. §1. The Court has
`entertained RFRA and free-exercise claims brought by nonprofit cor-
`
`porations. See, e.g., Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficiente União
`
`do Vegetal, 546 U. S. 418. And HHS’s concession that a nonprofit
`corporation can be a “person” under RFRA effectively dispatches any
`
`argument that the term does not reach for-profit corporations; no
`conceivable definition of “person” includes natural persons and non-
`profit corporations, but not for-profit corporations. Pp. 19–20.
`
`
`
`(ii) HHS and the dissent nonetheless argue that RFRA does
`
`not cover Conestoga, Hobby Lobby, and Mardel because they cannot
`“exercise . . . religion.” They offer no persuasive explanation for this
`conclusion. The corporate form alone cannot explain it because
`RFRA indisputably protects nonprofit corporations. And the profit-
`making objective of the corporations cannot explain it because the
`Court has entertained the free-exercise claims of individuals who
`
`were attempting to make a profit as retail merchants. Braunfeld v.
`
`
`Brown, 366 U. S. 599. Business practices compelled or limited by the
`tenets of a religious doctrine fall comfortably within the understand-
`ing of the “exercise of religion” that this Court set out in Employment
`
`Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U. S. 872, 877.
`Any suggestion that for-profit corporations are incapable of exercis-
`ing religion because their purpose is simply to make money flies in
`
`the face of modern corporate law. States, including those in which
`the plaintiff corporations were incorporated, authorize corporations
`to pursue any lawful purpose or business, including the pursuit of
`
`profit in conformity with the owners’ religious principles. Pp. 20–25.
`
`
`
`(iii) Also flawed is the claim that RFRA offers no protection be-
`cause it only codified pre-Smith Free Exercise Clause precedents,
`none of which squarely recognized free-exercise rights for for-profit
`corporations. First, nothing in RFRA as originally enacted suggested
`that its definition of “exercise of religion” was meant to be tied to pre-
`
`
`
`
`
`3
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`4
`
`
`
`
`
`
`BURWELL v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.
`
`
`Syllabus
`Smith interpretations of the First Amendment. Second, if RFRA’s
`original text were not clear enough, the RLUIPA amendment surely
`dispels any doubt that Congress intended to separate the definition of
`the phrase from that in First Amendment case law. Third, the pre-
`Smith case of Gallagher v. Crown Kosher Super Market of Mass., Inc.,
`366 U. S. 617, suggests, if anything, that for-profit corporations can
`exercise religion. Finally, the results would be absurd if RFRA, a law
`enacted to provide very broad protection for religious liberty, merely
`restored this Court’s pre-Smith decisions in ossified form and re-
`
`
`stricted RFRA claims to plaintiffs who fell within a category of plain-
`tiffs whose claims the Court had recognized before Smith. Pp. 25–28.
`
`
`
`(3) Finally, HHS contends that Congress could not have wanted
`RFRA to apply to for-profit corporations because of the difficulty of
`ascertaining the “beliefs” of large, publicly traded corporations, but
`
`HHS has not pointed to any example of a publicly traded corporation
`asserting RFRA rights, and numerous practical restraints would like-
`ly prevent that from occurring. HHS has also provided no evidence
`that the purported problem of determining the sincerity of an assert-
`ed religious belief moved Congress to exclude for-profit corporations
`from RFRA’s protection. That disputes among the owners of corpora-
`tions might arise is not a problem unique to this context. State cor-
`
`porate law provides a ready means for resolving any conflicts by, for
`example, dictating how a corporation can establish its governing
`
`structure. Courts will turn to that structure and the underlying state
`
`law in resolving disputes. Pp. 29–31.
`(b) HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exer-
`cise of religion. Pp. 31–38.
`
`
`(1) It requires the Hahns and Greens to engage in conduct that
`seriously violates their sincere religious belief that life begins at con-
`ception. If they and their companies refuse to provide contraceptive
`
`
`coverage, they face severe economic consequences: about $475 million
`
`per year for Hobby Lobby, $33 million per year for Conestoga, and
`$15 million per year for Mardel. And if they drop coverage altogeth-
`er, they could face penalties of roughly $26 million for Hobby Lobby,
`$1.8 million for Conestoga, and $800,000 for Mardel. P. 32.
`(2) Amici supporting HHS argue that the $2,000 per-employee
`penalty is less than the average cost of providing insurance, and
`therefore that dropping insurance coverage eliminates any substan-
`
`tial burden imposed by the mandate. HHS has never argued this and
`
`the Court does not know its position with respect to the argument.
`But even if the Court reached the argument, it would find it unper-
`
`suasive: It ignores the fact that the plaintiffs have religious reasons
`for providing health-insurance coverage for their employees, and it is
`
`
`far from clear that the net cost to the companies of providing insur-
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`ance is more than the cost of dropping their insurance plans and pay-
`
`ing the ACA penalty. Pp. 32–35.
`
`
`(3) HHS argues that the connection between what the objecting
`parties must do and the end that they find to be morally wrong is too
`attenuated because it is the employee who will choose the coverage
`and contraceptive method she uses. But RFRA’s question is whether
`the mandate imposes a substantial burden on the objecting parties’
`
`
`ability to conduct business in accordance with their religious beliefs.
`
`The belief of the Hahns and Greens implicates a difficult and im-
`portant question of religion and moral philosophy, namely, the cir-
`cumstances under which it is immoral for a person to perform an act
`that is innocent in itself but that has the effect of enabling or facili-
`tating the commission of an immoral act by another. It is not for the
`Court to say that the religious beliefs of the plaintiffs are mistaken or
`unreasonable. In fact, this Court considered and rejected a nearly
`
`identical argument in Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana Employment
`Security Div., 450 U. S. 707. The Court’s “narrow function . . . is to
`determine” whether the plaintiffs’ asserted religious belief reflects
`“an honest conviction,” id., at 716, and there is no dispute here that it
`does. Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U. S. 672, 689; and Board of Ed. of
`Central School Dist. No. 1 v. Allen, 392 U. S. 236, 248–249, distin-
`guished. Pp. 35–38.
`
`(c) The Court assumes that the interest in guaranteeing cost-free
`access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is a compelling
`governmental interest, but the Government has failed to show that
`
`the contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering
`that interest. Pp. 38–49.
`(1) The Court assumes that the interest in guaranteeing cost-free
`access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is compelling
`
`within the meaning of RFRA. Pp. 39–40.
`least-
`failed to satisfy RFRA’s
`(2) The Government has
`
`restrictive-means standard. HHS has not shown that it lacks other
`means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial
`burden on the exercise of religion. The Government could, e.g., as-
`sume the cost of providing the four contraceptives to women unable
`to obtain coverage due to their employers’ religious objections. Or it
`could extend the accommodation that HHS has already established
`
`
`for religious nonprofit organizations to non-profit employers with re-
`
`ligious objections to the contraceptive mandate. That accommodation
`does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs that providing in-
`surance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their
`religion and it still serves HHS’s stated interests. Pp. 40–45.
`
`
`(3) This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and
`should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage man-
`
`5
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`6
`
`
`BURWELL v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.
`
`
`Syllabus
`dates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily
`fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it
`provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination
`
`
` as a religious practice. United States v. Lee, 455 U. S. 252, which up-
`held the payment of Social Security taxes despite an employer’s reli-
`gious objection, is not analogous. It turned primarily on the special
`
`
` problems associated with a national system of taxation; and if Lee
` were a RFRA case, the fundamental point would still be that there is
`
`
`
` no less restrictive alternative to the categorical requirement to pay
`
`taxes. Here, there is an alternative to the contraceptive mandate.
`Pp. 45–49.
`No. 13–354, 723 F. 3d 1114, affirmed; No. 13–356, 724 F. 3d 377, re-
`versed and remanded.
`ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J.,
`
`
`and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed a
`
`
`
`concurring opinion. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which
`
` SOTOMAYOR, J., joined, and in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined as
`
`
`
`to all but Part III–C–1. BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., filed a dissenting opin-
`
`ion.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
`1
`
`
` NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
`
`
`
` preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
`
` notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash-
`
` ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
`
`
` that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
`
`
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`
`
`_________________
` Nos. 13–354 and 13–356
`_________________
` SYLVIA BURWELL, SECRETARY OF HEALTH
`
`
` AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL., PETITIONERS
`
`13–354
`v.
`
`HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC., ET AL.
`
`ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT
`
`
`OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT
`
`
`AND
`
`CONESTOGA WOOD SPECIALTIES CORPORATION
`
`ET AL., PETITIONERS
`
`13–356
`
`v.
`SYLVIA BURWELL, SECRETARY OF HEALTH
`
`AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.
`
`
`ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT
`
`
`OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
`
`[June 30, 2014]
`
` JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.
`We must decide in these cases whether the Religious
`
`Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 107 Stat. 1488,
`
`42 U. S. C. §2000bb et seq., permits the United States
`
`Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to
`demand that three closely held corporations provide
`health-insurance coverage for methods of contraception
`that violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the
`companies’ owners. We hold that the regulations that
`impose this obligation violate RFRA, which prohibits the
`
`
`
`

`
`2
`
`
`BURWELL v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.
`
`Opinion of the Court
`Federal Government from taking any action that substan-
`tially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action
`constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compel-
`ling government interest.
`
`In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject
`HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies for-
`feited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize
`their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprie-
`torships or general partnerships. The plain terms of
`RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not dis-
`criminate in this way against men and women who wish to
`run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the man-
`ner required by their religious beliefs.
`
`
`Since RFRA applies in these cases, we must decide
`whether the challenged HHS regulations substantially
`burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do.
`
`The owners of the businesses have religious objections to
`abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four
`contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients. If the
`owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they
`will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply,
`they will pay a very heavy price—as much as $1.3 million
`per day, or about $475 million per year, in the case of one
`
`of the companies. If these consequences do not amount to
`a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.
`
`Under RFRA, a Government action that imposes a
`substantial burden on religious exercise must serve a
`compelling government interest, and we assume that the
`HHS regulations satisfy this requirement. But in order
`for the HHS mandate to be sustained, it must also consti-
`tute the least restrictive means of serving that interest,
`and the mandate plainly fails that test. There are other
`ways in which Congress or HHS could equally ensure that
`every woman has cost-free access to the particular contra-
`ceptives at issue here and, indeed, to all FDA-approved
`contraceptives.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
` Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`In fact, HHS has already devised and implemented a
`
`system that seeks to respect the religious liberty of reli-
`gious nonprofit corporations while ensuring that the em-
`ployees of these entities have precisely the same access to
`all FDA-approved contraceptives as employees of compa-
`nies whose owners have no religious objections to provid-
`ing such coverage. The employees of these religious non-
`profit corporations still have access to insurance coverage
`
`without cost sharing for all FDA-approved contracep-
`tives; and according to HHS, this system imposes no net
`economic burden on the insurance companies that are
`required to provide or secure the coverage.
`
`Although HHS has made this system available to reli-
`
`gious nonprofits that have religious objections to the con-
`traceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the
`
`same system cannot be made available when the owners of
`for-profit corporations have similar religious objections.
`
`We therefore conclude that this system constitutes an
`
` alternative that achieves all of the Government’s aims
`
`while providing greater respect for religious liberty. And
`under RFRA, that conclusion means that enforcement of
`the HHS contraceptive mandate against the objecting
`parties in these cases is unlawful.
`
`As this description of our reasoning shows, our holding
`is very specific. We do not hold, as the principal dissent
`alleges, that for-profit corporations and other commercial
`enterprises can “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws)
`they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious
`beliefs.” Post, at 1 (opinion of GINSBURG, J.). Nor do we
`hold, as the dissent implies, that such corporations have
`free rein to take steps that impose “disadvantages . . . on
`others” or that require “the general public [to] pick up the
`tab.” Post, at 1–2. And we certainly do not hold or suggest
`that “RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corpo-
`ration’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that ac-
`commodation may have on . . . thousands of women em-
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`3
`
`

`
`BURWELL v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.
`
`Opinion of the Court
`ployed by Hobby Lobby.” Post, at 2.1 The effect of the
`HHS-created accommodation on the women employed by
`Hobby Lobby and the other companies involved in these
`cases would be precisely zero. Under that accommodation,
`these women would still be entitled to all FDA-approved
`contraceptives without cost sharing.
`I
`
`A
`
`Congress enacted RFRA in 1993 in order to provide very
`
`broad protection for religious liberty. RFRA’s enactment
`came three years after this Court’s decision in Employ­
`ment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494
`U. S. 872 (1990), which largely repudiated the method of
`analyzing free-exercise claims that had been used in cases
`like Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U. S. 398 (1963), and Wiscon­
`sin v. Yoder, 406 U. S. 205 (1972). In determining whether
`
`challenged government actions violated the Free Exercise
`Clause of the First Amendment, those decisions used a
`balancing test that took into account whether the chal-
`lenged action imposed a substantial burden on the prac-
`
` tice of religion, and if it did, whether it was needed to
`serve a compelling government interest. Applying this
`test, the Court held in Sherbert that an employee who was
`fired for refusing to work on her Sabbath could not be
`
`denied unemployment benefits. 374 U. S., at 408–409.
`And in Yoder, the Court held that Amish children could
`not be required to comply with a state law demanding that
`they remain in school until the age of 16 even though their
`religion required them to focus on uniquely Amish values
`
`
`and beliefs during their formative adolescent years. 406
`U. S., at 210–211, 234–236.
`In Smith, however, the Court rejected “the balancing
`——————
`
` 1See also post, at 8 (“The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and
` Conestoga . . . would deny [their employees] access to contraceptive
`
`coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure”)
`
`
`
`
`
`4
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
` test set forth in Sherbert.” 494 U. S., at 883. Smith con-
`cerned two members of the Native American Church who
`were fired for ingesting peyote for sacramental purposes.
`
`When they sought unemployment benefits, the State of
`
`Oregon rejected their claims on the ground that consump-
`tion of peyote was a crime, but the Oregon Supreme Court,
`applying the Sherbert test, held that the denial of benefits
`
`
`violated the Free Exercise Clause. 494 U. S., at 875.
`This Court then reversed, observing that use of the
`
`Sherbert test whenever a person objected on religious
`grounds to the enforcement of a generally applicable law
`“would open the prospect of constitutionally required
`religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every
`conceivable kind.” 494 U. S., at 888. The Court therefore
`held that, under the First Amendment, “neutral, generally
`applicable laws may be applied to religious practices even
`when not supported by a compelling governmental inter-
`est.” City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U. S. 507, 514 (1997).
`Congress responded to Smith by enacting RFRA.
`
`
`
`“[L]aws [that are] ‘neutral’ toward religion,” Congress
`found, “may burden religious exercise as surely as laws
`
`intended to interfere with religious exercise.” 42 U. S. C.
`§2000bb(a)(2); see also §2000bb(a)(4). In order to ensure
`broad protection for religious liberty, RFRA provides that
`“Government shall not substantially burden a person’s
`exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule
`of general applicability.” §2000bb–1(a).2 If the Govern-
`ment substantially burdens a person’s exercise of religion,
`under the Act that person is entitled to an exemption from
`the rule unless the Government “demonstrates that appli-
`cation of the burden to the person—(1) is in furtherance of
`a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least
`restrictive means of furthering that compelling govern-
`——————
`2The Act defines “government” to include any “department” or
`“agency” of the United States. §2000bb–2(1).
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`5
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`BURWELL v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
` mental interest.” §2000bb–1(b).3
`As enacted in 1993, RFRA applied to both the Federal
`
`Government and the States, but the constitutional author-
`ity invoked for regulating federal and state agencies dif-
`fered. As applied to a federal agency, RFRA is based on
`the enumerated power that supports the particular agen-
`cy’s work,4 but in attempting to regulate the States and
`
`their subdivisions, Congress relied on its power under
`Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to enforce the
`First Amendment. 521 U. S., at 516–517. In City of
`Boerne, however, we held that Congress had overstepped
`its Section 5 authority because “[t]he stringent test RFRA
`demands” “far exceed[ed] any pattern or practice of uncon-
`stitutional conduct under the Free Exercise Clause as
`interpreted in Smith.” Id., at 533–534. See also id., at
`532.
`Following our decision in City of Boerne, Congress
`
`passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
`Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 114 Stat. 803, 42 U. S. C.
`§2000cc et seq. That statute, enacted under Congress’s
`Commerce and Spending Clause powers, imposes the
`same general test as RFRA but on a more limited category
`of governmental actions. See Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544
`U. S. 709, 715–716 (2005). And, what is most relevant for
`present purposes, RLUIPA amended RFRA’s definition of
`the “exercise of religion.” See §2000bb–2(4) (importing
`RLUIPA definition). Before RLUIPA, RFRA’s definition
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`6
`
`
`——————
`3In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U. S., 507 (1997), we wrote that
`RFRA’s “least restrictive means requirement was not used in the pre-
`
`
`Smith jurisprudence RFRA purported to codify.” Id., at 509. On this
`understanding of our pre-Smith cases, RFRA did more than merely
`restore the balancing test used in the Sherbert line of cases; it provided
`even broader protection for religious liberty than was available under
`those decisions.
` 4See, e.g., Hankins v. Lyght, 441 F. 3d 96, 108 (CA2 2006); Guam v.
`Guerrero, 290 F. 3d 1210, 1220 (CA9 2002).
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`
`Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`made reference to the First Amendment. See §2000bb–
`2(4) (1994 ed.) (defining “exercise of religion” as “the exer-
`cise of religion under the First Amendment”). In RLUIPA,
`in an obvious effort to effect a complete separation from
`First Amendment case law, Congress deleted the reference
`to the First Amendment and defined the “exercise of reli-
`gion” to include “any exercise of religion, whether or not
`compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.”
`§2000cc–5(7)(A). And Congress mandated that this con-
`cept “be construed in favor of a broad protection of reli-
`
`gious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted by the
`terms of this chapter and the Constitution.” §2000cc–
`
`3(g).5
`
`
`
`7
`
`
`
`
`
`B
`
`At issue in these cases are HHS regulations promul-
`
`gated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
`of 2010 (ACA), 124 Stat. 119. ACA generally requires
`employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer
`“a group health plan or group health insurance coverage”
`that provides “minimum essential coverage.” 26 U. S. C.
`§5000A(f)(2); §§4980H(a), (c)(2). Any covered employer
`that does not provide such coverage must pay a substan-
`tial price. Specifically, if a covered employer provides
`group health insurance but its plan fails to comply with
`ACA’s group-health-plan requirements, the employer may
`be required to pay $100 per day for each affected “individ-
`——————
`5The principal dissent appears to contend that this rule of construc-
`tion should apply only when defining the “exercise of religion” in an
`RLUIPA case, but not in a RFRA case. See post, at 11, n. 10. That
`argument is plainly wrong. Under this rule of construction, the phrase
`“exercise of religion,” as it appears in RLUIPA, must be interpreted
`broadly, and RFRA states that the same phrase, as used in RFRA,
`
`
`
`
`means “religious exercis[e] as defined in [RLUIPA].” 42 U. S. C.
`§2000bb–2(4). It necessarily follows that the “exercise of religion”
`under RFRA must be given the same broad meaning that applies under
`RLUIPA.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`BURWELL v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.
`
`Opinion of the Court
`ual.” §§4980D(a)–(b). And if the employer decides to stop
`providing health insurance altogether and at least one
`full-time employee enrolls in a health plan and qualifies
`for a subsidy on one of the government-run ACA exchanges,
`the employer must pay $2,000 per year for each of its full-
`time employees. §§4980H(a), (c)(1).
`
`Unless an exception applies, ACA requires an employ-
`
`er’s group health plan or group-health-insurance coverage
`to furnish “preventive care and screenings” for women
`
`without “any cost sharing requirements.” 42 U. S. C.
`§300gg–13(a)(4). Congress itself, however, did not specify
`what types of preventive care must be covered. Instead,
`Congress authorized the Health Resources and Services
`Administration (HRSA), a component of HHS, to make
`that important and sensitive decision. Ibid. The HRSA in
`turn consulted the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit group
`of volunteer advisers, in determining which preventive
`services to require. See 77 Fed. Reg. 8725–8726 (2012).
`In August 2011, based on the Institute’s recommenda-
`
`tions, the HRSA promulgated the Women’s Preventive
`Services Guidelines. See id., at 8725–8726, and n. 1;
`online at http://hrsa.gov/womensguidelines (all Internet
`materials as visited June 26, 2014, and available in Clerk
`of Court’s case file). The Guidelines provide that nonex-
`empt employers are generally required to provide “cover-
`age, without cost sharing” for “[a]ll Food and Drug Ad-
`
`ministration [(FDA)] approved contraceptive methods,
`sterilization procedures, and patient education and coun-
`seling.” 77 Fed. Reg. 8725 (internal quotation marks
`omitted). Although many of the required, FDA-approved
`
`methods of contraception work by preventing the fertiliza-
`tion of an egg, four of those methods (those specifically at
`issue in these cases) may have the effect of preventing an
`already fertilized egg from developing any further by
`inhibiting its attachment to the uterus. See Brief for HHS
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`8
`
`
`

`
`
`
`9
`
`
`
`
`Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`in No. 13–354, pp. 9–10, n. 4;6 FDA, Birth Control: Medi-
`
`cines to Help You.7
`
`HHS also authorized the HRSA to establish exemptions
`from the contraceptive mandate for “religious employers.”
`45 CFR §147.131(a). That category encompasses “churches,
`their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associ-
`ations of churches,” as well as “the exclusively religious
`activities of any religious order.” See ibid (citing 26
`
`its Guidelines,
`U. S. C. §§6033(a)(3)(A)(i),
`(iii)).
` In
`HRSA exempted these organizations from the requirement
`to cover contraceptive services.
`See http://hrsa.gov/
`
`womensguidelines.
`
`
`In addition, H

This document is available on Docket Alarm but you must sign up to view it.


Or .

Accessing this document will incur an additional charge of $.

After purchase, you can access this document again without charge.

Accept $ Charge

This document could not be displayed.

We could not find this document within its docket. Please go back to the docket page and check the link. If that does not work, go back to the docket and refresh it to pull the newest information.

Your account does not support viewing this document.

You need a Paid Account to view this document. Click here to change your account type.

Your account does not support viewing this document.

Set your membership status to view this document.

With a Docket Alarm membership, you'll get a whole lot more, including:

  • Up-to-date information for this case.
  • Email alerts whenever there is an update.
  • Full text search for other cases.
  • Get email alerts whenever a new case matches your search.

Become a Member

One Moment Please

The filing “” is large (MB) and is being downloaded.

Please refresh this page in a few minutes to see if the filing has been downloaded. The filing will also be emailed to you when the download completes.

Sealed Document

We are unable to display this document, it may be under a court ordered seal.

If you have proper credentials to access the file, you may proceed directly to the court's system using your government issued username and password.


Access Government Site

We are redirecting you
to a mobile optimized page.





Document Unreadable or Corrupt

Try refreshing this document from the court, or go back to the docket to see other documents.

We are unable to display this document.

Go back to the docket to see more.