Supreme Court Protects Religious Ministries For 6th Time From IRS Fines

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2015
Media Contact: Melinda Skea, mskea@becketfund.org, 202.349.7224

Washington, D.C. – Moments ago, for the sixth time in a row, the Supreme Court took steps to protect another religious objector from the contraceptive mandate. It ordered a lower court to reconsider its ruling that denied a group of Catholic ministries in Michigan the freedom to follow their faith.  

“The government keeps making the same bad arguments and the Supreme Court keeps rejecting them — every single time. This is because the government can obviously come up with ways to distribute contraceptives without the forced involvement of Catholic ministries,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “As with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty. And it makes it less likely that lower courts will accept arguments the Supreme Court has rejected over and over and over again.” 

The Michigan Catholic Conference and other Catholic ministries brought their request to the Supreme Court after a surprising lower court decision that would have allowed large IRS fines against the ministries because they, based on their religious beliefs, cannot provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans. The federal government has relied heavily on that decision in courts around the country, arguing that it should be able to impose similar burdens on religious ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor. 

Over 750 plaintiffs in the other nonprofit cases have been granted protection from the unconstitutional mandate, which forces religious ministries to either violate their faith or pay massive IRS penalties.   

The Supreme Court has previously granted relief to the following religious objectors to the mandate: Little Sisters of the Poor (December 2013 and January 2014); Hobby Lobby (June 2014); Wheaton College (July 2014); University of Notre Dame (March 2015); Archbishop Zubik and the Diocese of Pittsburgh (April 2015).  

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket Fund attorney, please contact Melinda Skea atmskea@becketfund.org or 202.349.7224. 

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, includingBuddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling inBurwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings inHolt v. HobbsandHosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.” 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket Fund attorney, please contact Melinda Skea atmskea@becketfund.org or 202.349.7224. 

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in Holt v. Hobbs and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

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