Attorney General Urges Supreme Court to Block Religious Exemptions From ACA

SAN FRANCISCO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to review whether for-profit businesses may claim religious exemptions from a requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that employee health plans cover contraception.

Attorney General Harris’ brief urges the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Kathleen Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and asks the Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling that would allow two for-profit corporations to avoid full compliance with the law.

“Access to contraceptive services is critical to the health of women and infants; women’s economic and social wellbeing; and women’s opportunities to participate fully in society,” the amicus brief states.

Further, the brief argues that a lower court’s determination that for-profit corporations may assert religious exemptions to certain laws could interfere with enforcement of other important regulations that protect public safety, civil rights, social welfare, housing, employment and public health.

“The freedom of individuals to exercise the religion of their choosing is one of the most important values in our society, as reflected by its enshrinement in the federal Constitution. The federal government’s contraceptive coverage regulations under ACA respect that freedom through inclusion of appropriate exemptions, while also advancing the similarly compelling interests in public health and gender equality in access to health care. The court of appeals’ decision would upset that balance and threaten far-reaching impacts on the States beyond the issues presented by this action,” the amicus brief states.

Ten states joined Attorney General Harris’ brief, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

The brief addresses a ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

A copy of the brief is attached to the electronic version of this release at