With its decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the us Supreme Court adjudicated over the “Contraceptive Mandate”, a regulation of the Healthcare Reform that aroused religious concerns as it requires companies offering health insurance to its employees to cover contraceptives. Recognizing for the first time that private companies are (legal) “persons” exercising religion, the Court declared that the Mandate violates their religious freedom and exempted them from covering contraceptives. The article argues that the restrictive interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (rfra) here proposed, by granting strong protection to corporations’ religious claims over their employees’ interest in equal access to health care, may lead to the proliferation of religious accommodations far beyond this controversy. Yet, the article concludes that this dangerous scenario can be limited by taking into consideration the impact of religious accommodations on third parties’ rights, as imposed by an interpretation of rfra consistent with the Establishment Clause.
Since the first case, Belmont Abbey Collegev. Sebelius, 878 F. Supp. 2d 25 (d.d.c., July 18, 2012) filed on November 2011, 101 lawsuits have been filed, 52 by non-profit institutions, 45 by for-profit corporations and 4 by both for-profit and non-profit plaintiffs. For a complete overview of all the lawsuits against the hhs Mandate, see Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, hhs Mandate Information Central, <www.becketfund.org/hhsinformationcentral>, 1 May 2015.