Zubik v. Burwell case remains divided: 5 things to know

Groups on both sides of the Zubik v. Burwell Supreme Court case about the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate filed their final round of briefs Wednesday, but a compromise still looks distant, according to SCOTUSblog.

Here are five things to know about the case.

1. The case centers on the ACA mandate and its accommodation that requires nearly all health plans to include contraceptive coverage. Consolidating seven separate cases, the plaintiffs claim this mandate and its accommodation violate their religious freedom. The accommodation allows religious nonprofits to notify their insurer of their objection to contraceptive coverage, which the insurer will then provide.

2. To avoid a 4-4 split, the Supreme Court issued an unusual order in March asking for supplemental briefs from lawyers on both sides to propose a compromise. The lawyers were asked to file one brief by April 12 and a single reply brief by April 20.

3. In their reply brief, lawyers for the plaintiffs said they felt the government was not being flexible enough. "The nonprofits said that the government was clinging too much to the idea, objectionable to them, that they must take a specific step to gain a separation from the process of providing contraceptives," according to SCOTUSblog. They also said that the government's willingness to modify its approach at all shows the existing rules are illegal, according to the blog.

4. The federal government's lawyers said the degrees of separation requested by the nonprofits are not feasible. The plaintiffs suggested using a separate insurance policy for contraceptive coverage, which the government said is not workable due to state laws, according to the blog. They also said religious nonprofits do not have a right under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to dictate how the government works with insurance companies.

5. "There is considerably more difference than commonality" between the final rounds of briefs, according to SCOTUSblog. The Justices can now move into private discussion, but it is not clear the opportunity to compromise generated any useful solutions, according to the blog.


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