Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in three cases of interest to the business community:
Religious Freedom Restoration Act—Challenge to Contraception Rule
Zubik v. Burwell, No. 14-1418
Priests for Life v. HHS, No. 14-1453
Roman Catholic Archbishop v. Burwell, No. 14-1505
E. Tex. Baptist Univ. v. Burwell, No. 15-35
Little Sisters v. Burwell, No. 15-105
S. Nazarene Univ. v. Burwell, No. 15-119
Geneva College v. Burwell, No. 15-191
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers must provide coverage to employees for preventive care or incur penalties. That mandate has been interpreted to require employers to provide access to FDA-approved contraceptives. The federal government permits a religious non-profit institution to satisfy that mandate by filing a form indicating that it has a religious objection to providing contraceptive coverage. Upon receipt of such a form, the Department of Health and Human Services informs the insurer or third-party administrator of the applicable plan to provide no-cost access to the covered contraceptives. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), Congress may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion absent a compelling government interest that is narrowly tailored to that end. The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to decide whether the contraception mandate's workaround for religious non-profit employers complies with RFRA.
Bankruptcy—The "Actual Fraud" Bar
Husky International Electronics, Inc. v. Ritz, No. 15-145
Under Section 523(a)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code, a debt for money obtained by "actual fraud" cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to address the scope of that provision. Ritz, the owner of a manufacturing corporation, purchased goods from Husky International, a supplier, but never paid for them. At around the same time, Ritz orchestrated a fraudulent conveyance from his company to several other entities to avoid paying his debt to Husky. Ritz later declared bankruptcy under Chapter 7 and sought to discharge the debts he owed to Husky. The bankruptcy court, district court, and court of appeals held that the debt was dischargeable, notwithstanding the "actual fraud" bar, because the fraudulent conveyance entailed no actual misrepresentation made by Ritz to Husky. The Court is set to decide whether "actual fraud" requires a false representation.
Federal Tort Claims Act—Preclusive Effect of a Prior Judgment
Simmons v. Himmelreich, No. 15-109
In February 2010, a federal prisoner brought an action in federal court against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") for torts arising out of an alleged assault by a fellow inmate. Later that year, the prisoner brought a Bivens action against two prison employees in connection with the same injuries. The prisoner's FTCA claim was dismissed by the district court because under the FTCA provision that prohibits claims based on a federal employee's performance of a discretionary function. The prisoner's Bivens action was later dismissed under the FTCA's judgment bar, which provides that a judgment in an FTCA action "shall constitute a complete bar to any action by the claimant" arising from the same subject matter. After the court of appeals reversed, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether the FTCA bars subsequent actions when an FTCA claim has been dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
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