7th Circuit hears oral arguments in 2 contraceptive coverage mandate cases

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday (May 22, 2013) heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate.  One was Korte v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Audio of the full oral argument).  In the case, an Illinois federal district court denied a preliminary injunction sought by a for-profit construction business and its controlling shareholders in a free exercise challenge to the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act.  (See prior posting.) The 7th Circuit then issued an injunction preventing enforcement while the appeal was pending. (See prior posting.) Reporting on yesterday’s arguments, the Chicago Tribune said:

[I]n an unexpected twist … the lawyer for the U.S. government argued that accommodating the business owners’ religious beliefs could violate the First Amendment as well…. Alisa Klein, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, said allowing a company to impose a religious framework on a diverse workforce would amount to fostering or enabling religious practice.

The second case argued yesterday was Grote v. Sebelius. (Audio of the full oral argument.) In the case an Indiana federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to a for-profit business that manufactures vehicle safety systems and its Catholic owners who claim that their religious liberty rights are infringed by the mandate. (See prior posting.) The 7th Circuit in this case also issued an injunction preventing enforcement while the appeal is pending. (See prior posting.)