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Religious groups try to sway Supreme Court in birth control case

(RNS)More than 40 groups, many faith-based, filed friend-of-the-court briefs opposing the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

 A view of the Supreme Court on Oct. 7, 2014.  Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe

(RNS) One of the most anticipated cases of this Supreme Court season revolves around nuns and birth control.

Zubik v. Burwell, which comes before the justices Wednesday (March 23), addresses one of the most contentious parts of the Affordable Care Act: the requirement that employers offer certain types of birth control to their employees — the so-called contraceptive mandate. A case decided by the court in 2014 exempted the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, and other “closely held” for-profit companies with religious objections, from the provision. The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns, is suing on similar grounds.

The sisters and other religious plaintiffs assert that the birth control provision violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which made it tougher for the federal government to restrict a person’s free exercise of religion. The plaintiffs in Zubik v. Burwell also object to the way in which they must claim an exemption: by informing their insurer or the government that they want one. Doing so, they argue, would make them complicit by triggering a process that would provide their employees with birth control through another avenue.

On the other side of the case is the Obama administration, which holds that the contraceptive mandate does not impinge on the religious rights of the nuns and the other parties suing the government.

Below is a list of religious organizations and others that have submitted “friend of the court” briefs on the case, in hopes of influencing the court’s eight justices. They are expected to rule on the case in late spring or early summer.

Siding with the nuns

Orthodox Jewish Rabbis

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, et al.

CNS International Ministries Inc. and Heartland Christian College

Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

Residents and Families of Residents at Homes of the Little Sisters of the Poor

The School of the Ozarks Inc.

Justice and Freedom Fund

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Texas, et al. filed.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, et al.

Christian Legal Society, et al.

Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye Inc., et al.

Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation Inc.

207 Members of Congress

National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs

Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund Inc.

Former Justice Department Officials

Cato Institute and Independent Women’s Forum

National Association of Evangelicals, et al.

50 Catholic Theologians and Ethicists

Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, et al.

Constitutional Law Scholars

Women Speak for Themselves

Liberty Counsel

Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

The Knights of Columbus

Bart Stupak, et al.

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, et al.

Thomas More Law Center

ACNA Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy, et al.

Eternal Word Television Network

David Boyle

Thirteen Law Professors

International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers

Concerned Women for America

Michael J. New, Ph.D., Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute

American Center for Law and Justice

U.S. Justice Foundation, et al.

Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, et al.

The Catholic Benefits Association, et al.

Religious Institutions

Siding with the Obama administration

American Humanist Association

Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, et al.

American Civil Liberties Union, et al.

Church-State Scholars

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, et al.

Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

Compassion & Choices

National Women’s Law Center and 68 Other Organizations

Norman Dorsen, et al.

American Jewish Committee, et al.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, et al.

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, et al.

Catholics for Choice, et al.

Former State Attorneys General, et al.

Foreign and International Law Experts Lawrence O. Gostin, et al.

240 Students, Faculty and Staff at Religiously Affiliated Universities

American Academy of Pediatrics

Scholars of Religious Liberty Sarah Barringer Gordon, et al.

Health Policy Experts

Anti-Defamation League, et al.

Black Women’s Health Imperative

Guttmacher Institute, and Professor Sara Rosenbaum

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., et al.

123 Members of the United States Congress

Military Historians

The National Health Law Program, et al.

California, et al.

Honorable Robert C. “Bobby” Scott

The Center for Inquiry, and American Atheists

(List courtesy of SCOTUSblog)

(Lauren Markoe is a national reporter for RNS)