Michigan Catholic Conference v. Burwell

As part of the Affordable Care Act’s implementing regulations, group health plans are required to include coverage for various forms of preventative care, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Houses of worship are exempt from these requirements, and the Department of Health and Human Services later created a broader accomodation for certain nonprofit organizations. In particular, religious non-profit organizations may opt out of providing contraceptive coverage by certifying their religious objection; upon receipt of this certification, the organization’s insurance company—or in the case of self-insured plans, its third-party administrator—steps in to provide the coverage.

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Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius

As part of the Affordable Care Act’s implementing regulations, group health plans are required to include coverage for various forms of preventative care, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Houses of worship are exempt from these requirements, and the Department of Health and Human Services later created a broader accomodation for certain nonprofit organizations. In particular, religious non-profit organizations may opt out of providing contraceptive coverage by certifying their religious objection; upon receiving this certification, the organization’s insurance company—or in the case of self-insured plans, its third-party administrator—steps in to provide the coverage.

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Sanchez v. Austin

In October of 2011, protestors associated with Occupy Austin installed themselves in the plaza outside of Austin’s City Hall. In an effort to scuttle the protest, law enforcement officers began issuing criminal trespass notices—citations that bar the recipient from a public space for a period of time—for reasons such as skateboarding and “improper” language. The protestors later successfully sued the city for violating their First Amendment right to free speech. Read more

Farina v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections

Anthony Farina was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1992 robbery of a fast-food restaurant that left one employee dead. During the sentencing phase of his trial, Farina called a minister to testify about his reformed character and embrace of Christianity in prison. On cross-examination, the prosecutor grilled the minister about Christian theology, including the Book of Romans, which addresses “submission to authority.” In his closing argument, the prosecutor added that those who “rebel against the authority…will bring judgment on themselves.” Read more

Kitchen v. Herbert

In 2004, the state of Utah passed legislation and adopted a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The ballot materials for the latter included expressions of religious opposition to homosexuality, including references to “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” In 2013, same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging the marriage ban. The couples argued that the marriage ban unconstitutionally infringes their fundamental right to marriage and their right to equal protection under the law. The trial court ruled in favor of the couples and invalidated the marriage ban; the state appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

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Sevcik v. Sandoval / Jackson v. Abercrombie

In 1998, Hawaii amended its state constitution to allow the state legislature to ban same-sex marriage. Four years later, Nevada adopted a similar constitutional amendment, forbidding any government official in the state from recognizing same-sex marriage. Both amendments were challenged under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause by same-sex couples, in lawsuits filed in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The trial court in each case rejected the challenge, and the couples appealed. Their cases were consolidated before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Read more

Hickenlooper v. Freedom From Religion Foundation

In 1952 Congress established a National Day of Prayer, later designated as the first Thursday in March. The National Day of Prayer Task Force, a nonprofit organization with the goal of “mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership,” has made annual requests to state governments to issue official state prayer proclamations in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Read more

Holt v. Hobbs

Gregory Holt goes by the name Abdul Maalik Muhammed and identifies as a devout Salafist Muslim. The prison where Holt is incarcerated bans all facial hair for inmates, ostensibly for security purposes. But prisoners suffering from skin conditions are given an exception and allowed to grow quarter-inch beards, and both the federal government and most other states allow inmates to wear beards for religious reasons. Holt’s request for an accomodation to grow a half-inch beard, in accordance with his faith, was denied by correctional officials. Read more

King v. Christie

In 2013, New Jersey passed a law prohibiting licensed medical professionals from subjecting minors to “sexual orientation change efforts”—purportedly therapeutic efforts to change a patient's sexual orientation. The practice has been roundly condemned by medical and mental health professionals, with organizations like the American Psychological Association warning that the practice may produce serious health risks.

Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell

As part of the Affordable Care Act's implementing regulations, group health plans are required to include coverage for various forms of preventative care, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Various secular, for-profit businesses with religious owners have filed lawsuits asserting that they cannot include contraception coverage in employee health plans without violating, among other things, their free exercise rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Read more

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