Associate Professor of Law
B.A., 2002, Boston University
J.D., 2006, New York University School of Law
LL.M., 2007, New York University School of Law
Rachel Mance - (314) 935-3380
Phone / Email
Phone: (314) 935-3380
Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 556
Health Law & Policy Seminar
Professor Elizabeth Sepper is a health law scholar whose work explores the interaction of morality, professional ethics, and law in health care and insurance. She has written extensively on conscientious refusals to provide reproductive and end-of-life healthcare and on conflicts over religious liberty and insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate. Her scholarship also examines the interaction of business religious exemptions and gay rights.
In an article forthcoming in the Columbia Law Review, Sepper argues that, in promoting corporate religious exemptions from employment and consumer protections, litigants, scholars, and courts are resurrecting Lochner v. New York—a case symbolic of the courts’ widely criticized use of freedom of contract to strike down economic regulation at the turn of the last century. Sepper identifies this phenomenon as “free exercise Lochnerism.”
The Article makes significant contributions to ongoing debates about religious liberty, same-sex marriage, and limits on the regulatory state. It shows that in resisting compliance with antidiscrimination laws, pharmacy regulations, and insurance mandates (most prominently, the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate), businesses make claims more reminiscent of market libertarianism than of religious freedom. Siding with these businesses, courts have begun to incorporate the premises of Lochner into religious liberty doctrine. The comparison to Lochner-era freedom of contract cases also lays bare the implications for the regulatory state, beyond contraception and same-sex marriage. While scholars have recognized a link between Lochner and the Free Speech Clause, Sepper is the first to establish that free exercise has taken on a similar role with potential to undermine the regulation of business more broadly.
Her previous articles have appeared in top journals, including the Virginia Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, Harvard Journal of Gender & Law, and Harvard Law Review Forum. Prior to joining the faculty, she was a fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights and Columbia Law School. She also clerked for the Hon. Marjorie Rendell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and practiced at Human Rights Watch and NYU School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.