Thursday, April 21, 2016

Parties File Supplemental Reply Briefs With Supreme Court In Zubik Case

Yesterday the petitioners and respondents both filed Supplemental Reply Briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell, the case challenging the government's compromise for religious non-profits that object to including contraceptive coverage in their employee health plans.  The briefs make it clear that there is not agreement between the parties on an alternative compromise. The petitioner's brief (full text) says in part:
If petitioners were truly exempt from the mandate, and those companies were to offer their employees the kind of truly separate coverage that petitioners have described—i.e., “a separate policy, with a separate enrollment process, a separate insurance card, and a separate payment source, and offered to individuals through a separate communication”—then petitioners would no longer have a RFRA objection.
The government's brief (full text) counters:
[P]etitioners assert that it is not enough that insurers provide that coverage entirely outside petitioners’ health plans and without their involvement, as the accommodation already requires. Petitioners also insist that the coverage must consist of contraceptive-only insurance policies, not direct payments for contraceptives. And they add that women must take affirmative steps to enroll, and cannot be covered automatically.
RFRA does not give petitioners the right to insist upon those new conditions. The statute simply does not entitle them to dictate the terms of insurers’ separate dealings with women.