Statement to the Press: Zubik vs. Burwell Supreme Court Case Challenging HHS Mandate

Statement to the Press: Zubik vs. Burwell Supreme Court Case Challenging HHS Mandate


Date: March 22, 2016

Contact: Leslie Palma

Oral Arguments in Supreme Court, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Seven consolidated cases, representing 37 distinct petitioners, will be heard this morning in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Zubik vs. Burwell, which challenges the same mandate that Hobby Lobby successfully challenged. The difference is that in this case, the petitioners are not businesses, but rather religious non-profits, and along with objecting to the mandate itself, these petitioners are objecting to the regulatory mechanism, or “accommodation,” which the government claims allows them to “opt-out” of the mandate. Petitioners claim the “accommodation” makes them complicit in the very coverage it claims to release them from, and substantially burdens their exercise of religion in a way that fails to meet the strict text imposed on the government by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The first of the 37 petitioners — and the fourth in the nation — to challenge the mandate in court was Priests for Life, the nation’s largest Catholic ministry focused on ending abortion. Priests for Life vs. HHS is particularly well-suited to challenge this mandate, because the requirement to provide abortion-inducing drugs contradicts not only the religious faith of the petitioners but is a direct, head-on collision with its mission and raison d’ê•tre, which is to end the practice of abortion. Along with the organization, petitioners in the Priests for Life case include Alveda King, niece of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She heads up the Black outreach ministry for Priests for Life. Likewise included is Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life, and Fr. Frank Pavone, its National Director.

Fr. Pavone stated today, “I am very grateful to all the petitioners, and all the friends of the court, in these landmark cases, for standing up for the basic question at the heart of this dispute: the government cannot force believers to choose between following their faith and following the law. This accommodation is not an “opt-out;” rather, it is a hijacking of the mechanism of our insurance plans to further the immoral goal of expanding access to abortion-inducing drugs and other objectionable services. To add insult to injury, the government exempts the Churches to which Priests for Life sends its priests to preach, but doesn’t exempt the group that trains and sends them. We share in the same faith as these churches; we share in the same objections to the mandate; we should likewise share in the same exemption.”

Fr. Pavone will speak at the press conference to be held at the steps of the Supreme Court immediately after the oral arguments and will also be available for comment afterwards, as will his legal counsel in this case, Robert Muise, co-founder of the American Freedom Law Center.

Priests for Life will hold a national webcast on Monday night, March 28 from 9 to 10 p.m. to discuss with several observers from within the courtroom how the oral arguments went. To sign up, visit Priests for Life is leading a prayer campaign against the mandate at For info on the case, visit

For interviews, contact Leslie Palma at, 347-286-7277.

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit


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