Amicus Briefs Supporting the Little Sisters

Amicus briefs, or “friend-of-the-court briefs,” are filed by groups, individuals, and scholars who are not part of the case before the Supreme Court, but who care about how the Court rules. There are two stages when amicus briefs may be filed — at the certiorari stage and the merits stage.

In Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, 15 amicus briefs were filed at the certiorari stage. The briefs include powerful arguments from leading scholars, top Supreme Court practitioners, and prominent religious leaders, forming a diverse coalition in support of the Little Sisters of Poor before the Supreme Court.

Merits-stage amicus briefs supporting the Sisters, Houston Baptist and East Texas Baptist universities and other non-profit organizations were filed January 11. Here are some highlights from the amicus briefs in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor:

Briefs in Support of Little Sisters (43)

Amici Authors Topics
13 Law Professors McGuireWoods The contraceptive mandate burdens petitioners’ religion by commandeering their property and using it to distribute contraceptives and life-terminating drugs and devices
20 States Attorney General of Texas The mandate’s alternative method of compliance is not the least restrictive means of providing no-cost contraceptives to petitioners’ employees
50 Catholic Theologians and Ethicists James Otis Law Group Analysis of Catholic moral theology regarding the Mandate
207 Members of Congress Covington & Burling RFRA reflects our broad tradition of religious liberty protection
Agudas Harabbanim of the United States and Canada, Agudath Israel of America, National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs, National Council of Young Israel, Orthodox Union, Rabbinical Alliance of America, Rabbinical Council of America, Torah Umesorah Lewin & Lewin Problems from Orthodox Jewish perspective of treating houses of worship as of greater sanctity than yeshivas
American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, Catholic Medical Association, Christian Medical Association, National Association of Pro Life Nurses, National Association of Catholic Nurses U.S.A., National Catholic Bioethics Center, and Physicians for Life Americans United for Life Certain FDA-approved drugs and devices covered by the Mandate can terminate an embryo
American Center for Law & Justice American Center for Law & Justice; Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University School of Law Religious organizations provide numerous secular benefits to society and a rejection of petitioners’ RFRA claim will negatively impact their ability to provide services to those in need.
American Islamic Congress, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, Church of God in Christ, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Orthodox Church in America, Queens Federation of Churches Schaerr Law Group; Church of God in Christ, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Orthodox Church in America To avoid government intrusion into religious affairs, the test for “substantial burden” should focus on the sincerity of the religious belief and the objective seriousness of the penalty for non-compliance
Anglican Church in North America Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy, Ave Maria University Prof. Scott Gaylord Courts may not usurp the right of religious adherents to determine their own views regarding moral complicity
Assemblies of God, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Colorado Christian University, National Association of Evangelicals, Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration Kirton McConkie RFRA properly accounts for the concerns of third parties by means of its balancing test
Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Cardinal Newman Society, Catholic Relief Services, Family Research Council, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, Thomas More Society, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, World Vision United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Faith-based organizations do a great amount of good and should not be forced out of providing social services
David Boyle David Boyle Amicus’ musings on religious discord
Breast Cancer Prevention Institute Bioethics Defense Fund; Life Legal Defense Fund Medical research regarding mandated items
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, School Sisters of Christ the King of Lincoln, Nebraska Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher HHS’s discriminatory regulations raise serious constitutional problems that can be avoided only by adopting petitioners’ construction of RFRA
Catholic Benefits Association Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie The accommodation burdens employers’ religious exercise by hijacking their health plans for the delivery of morally objectionable drugs and devices
Catholic Defense League Andrew Schlafly The mandate violates Catholic beliefs
Cato Institute and Independent Women’s Forum Cato Institute, Prof. Josh Blackman, Prof. Erin Hawley, Prof. Joshua Hawley The ACA does not delegate to the Departments the authority to discriminate among religious nonprofits
Christian and Missionary Alliance O’Melveny & Myers; Liberty Institute HHS impermissibly distinguishes between religious believers, fully protecting only those groups it deems sufficiently “religious”
Christian Legal Society, Association of Christian Schools International, American Association of Christian Schools Wilmer Hale Devastating effects on religious liberty if lower courts’ interpretation of the substantial burden standard is allowed to remain
Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Pastor Robert Soto and other members of the Lipan Apache Tribe Baker Botts The experience of Amici shows that allowing government to second-guess religious beliefs and favor some religious groups over others uniquely harms the very minority religions that RFRA was designed to protect
College of the Ozarks Husch Blackwell The HHS regulations impose a substantial burden on the College’s religious beliefs
CNS International Ministries and Heartland Christian College Ottsen, Leggat & Belz History of the government’s eight changes to the contraceptive mandate, each time claiming the latest iteration was the least restrictive means available
Concerned Women for America National Legal Foundation Women value religious freedom, ministry, and service
Constitutional Law Scholars Hunton & Williams RFRA properly balances religious freedom and third-party interests
Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Warner Norcross & Judd The government’s decision to exempt churches, but not religious colleges like Petitioners, is arbitrary and cannot survive strict scrutiny
Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Sisters of Life, Judicial Education Project Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; Judicial Crisis Network The Government intentionally used Section 6033 to gerrymander the religious exemption
Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund Lawrence Joseph The Mandate burdens religion and there is no compelling governmental interest
Eternal Word Television Network Duncan PLLC The religious exercise at issue is avoiding complicity in someone else’s wrongdoing and the so-called “accommodation” does nothing to diminish that complicity
Ethics and Public Policy Center Munger, Tolles & Olson Consistent with familiar strict scrutiny principles, RFRA includes stringent standards with respect to compelling governmental interest and least restrictive means; the government does not meet these standards
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Nelson Mullins; International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention Analysis of Christian doctrine and Southern Baptist teaching regarding the Mandate
Families of Residents at Homes of the Little Sisters of the Poor Dwight Duncan Stories of how the Little Sisters of the Poor have ministered to the elderly poor
Former Justice Department Officials Kirkland & Ellis, Prof. Michael McConnell The federal government’s arguments in these cases contradict the federal government’s arguments regarding moral complicity in the context of criminal prosecutions
Former Rep. Bart Stupak and Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence Unelected, unaccountable regulatory agencies cannot create a compelling interest without clear authority from Congress, and that authority is lacking here
Foundation for Moral Law Foundation for Moral Law Exempting the Little Sisters from the contraceptive mandate is a less restrictive alternative
International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers Chaplains’ Counsel The mandate is a direct attack on freedom of conscience
Justice and Freedom Fund James Hirsen, Deborah Dewart Accommodating religious employers does not constitute invidious discrimination
Knights of Columbus Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie; Knights of Columbus The government cannot have a compelling interest in forcing some ministries to comply with the Mandate when it has voluntarily excused others that are essentially identical; Title X is a less restrictive alternative
Liberty Counsel Liberty Counsel Historical underpinnings of religious liberty
Dr. Michael New, Charlotte Lozier Institute Langdon Law, Thomas Messner Statistical research shows that increasing access to contraceptives does not decrease number of unintended pregnancies
Orthodox Jewish Rabbis Howard Slugh As a minority within a minority, Orthodox Jews will experience deprivations of their religious liberty if judges second-guess their sincerely held religious beliefs
Thomas More Law Center Thomas More Law Center The Mandate substantially burdens Petitioners’ religious exercise
U.S. Justice Foundation, Eberle Communications Group, Public Advocate of the U.S., Citizens United, Citizens United Foundation, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Institute on the Constitution, Policy Analysis Center, Southwest Prophecy Ministries, Daniel Chapter One, and Virginia Del. Bob Marshall William J. Olson, U.S. Justice Foundation Congress never mandated that contraceptives, including abortifacients, be provided to women
Women Speak for Themselves Prof. Helen Alvaré The government has not shown a compelling interest or a causal relationship between the mandate and improved health for women, nor has the government proven its claims about the mandate’s effects on women’s access to health services


Briefs Supporting Little Sisters Petition to SCOTUS (15)