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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. President of the United States of America

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
888 F.3d 52 (2018)


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also called “Obamacare”) required employers to provide employees health insurance with free contraception. To accommodate employers who objected on religious grounds, the Department of Human Services promulgated regulations allowing employers to self-certify religious concerns, which would in turn allow their insurers to provide contraceptive coverage without the employer’s involvement. Pennsylvania (plaintiff) sued the president (defendant) seeking a declaration that the regulations were illegal and would violate the Affordable Care Act because some people would actually lose contraceptive coverage as a result. An international Catholic organization called Little Sisters of the Poor that operates homes for elderly poor people sought to intervene in the lawsuit. Little Sisters argued that self-certification would violate its religious beliefs by forcing it to take action that would result in others providing contraception to people and therefore look like participation in the department’s contraception delivery scheme. The district court did not allow Little Sisters to intervene, reasoning that it lacked a significantly protectible interest in the lawsuit, the federal government adequately represented its interests, and intervention would delay efficient resolution. Little Sisters appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hardiman, J.)

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