The Catholic University of America

CUA Law professor Mark Rienzi gave a talk at the Cato Institute as part of their Constitution Day program on September 15, 2016. See below. 

Fool Me Twice: Zubik v. Burwell and the Perils of Judicial Faith in Government Claims

It is tempting to think of Zubik v. Burwell as a case that fizzled. After all, the latest version of the contraceptive mandate fight was initially viewed as one of the term’s biggest blockbusters. The case  generated widespread public interest and involved a particularly large expenditure of legal resources by the Court and the parties. There were dozens of parties, two classes, four years of litigation, seven petitions for certiorari, expanded merits briefing, a supplemental round of merits briefing, extended oral argument, and more than 70 amicus briefs. On one side stood the consciences of groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor and on the other stood expanded access to birth control. The button could hardly be hotter. 

Yet after all of that attention and effort, Zubik came to a surprisingly short and seemingly inconclusive result: a three-page per curiam opinion remanding the cases for further consideration. Because the Court’s opinion did not resolve the merits of the case, many called it a “punt” or a “dodge.” Viewed in that light, Zubik looks like Macbeth’s view of life: full of sound and fury, but ultimately signifying nothing.

Click here to view the speech at 25:20. 

Click here to read the full article. 

Click here for more information about the program.

Mark Rienzi  

Professor Mark L. Rienzi's
Areas of Expertise

Religious Liberty

Free Speech


Fourteenth Amendment

For additional information about our professors' areas of speciality, see the Catholic University Experts page.