Advancing Religious Liberty
1/15/13 at 10:29 AM 1 Comments

HHS Mandate Cases: A Scorecard

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Author: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Greg Baylor

It is quite a challenge to keep track of the large and growing number of legal challenges to the HHS contraceptive/abortifacient mandate. Religious organizations, for-profit businesses, and individuals have filed over 40 cases, attempting to protect their deeply held religious beliefs and exercise from the unconstitutional dictates of the federal government. Alliance Defending Freedom represents Louisiana College, Geneva College, Biola University, Grace College, Tyndale House Publishers, the Newland family (Hercules Industries), and the Hepler family (Seneca Hardwood) in their challenges to the illegal Mandate. I thought it might be helpful to provide a brief snapshot of where these and other cases stand.

For-Profit Tally

Fifteen lawsuits have been filed by for-profit businesses and their owners. Their religious consciences preclude them from subsidizing the use of contraceptives and/or abortifacients by participants in their health insurance plans. Because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declined to extend the “Temporary Enforcement Safe Harbor” to such for-profit companies, it has been necessary for most of them to seek immediate relief from the federal courts. The good news is that most courts have afforded that relief, either a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction. Unfortunately, a few courts denied the requests for interim relief. The government has argued that for-profit business simply cannot exercise religion at all, thus that they have no religious exercise rights that might be violated.

Injunctions Granted: 7 cases

  • Newland (Hercules Industries) v. Sebelius – Preliminary injunction, District of Colorado
  • Weingartz Supply Co. v. Sebelius – Preliminary injunction, Eastern District of Michigan
  • Tyndale Publishers v. Sebelius – Preliminary injunction, District of Columbia
  • American Pulverizer Co. v. HHS – Preliminary injunction, Western District of Missouri
  • Domino’s Farms Corp. v. Sebelius – Preliminary injunction, Eastern District of Michigan
  • Sharpe Holdings, Inc. v. HHS – Temporary restraining order, Eastern District of Missouri
  • Triune Health Group v. HHS – Preliminary injunction, Northern District of Illinois

Injunctions Pending Appeal Granted: 2 cases

  • Korte v. Sebelius – Preliminary injunction, 7th Circuit
  • O’Brien v. HHS – Preliminary injunction, 8th Circuit

Injunctions Denied: 5 cases

  • Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius – Western District of Oklahoma, 10th Circuit, Supreme Court
  • Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius – Western District of Michigan, 6th Circuit
  • Grote Indus. LLC v. Sebelius –Southern District of Indiana
  • Annex Medical v. Sebelius –District of Minnesota
  • Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius – Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Motion to Dismiss Pending: 1 case

  • Seneca Hardwood v. Sebelius – Western District of Pennsylvania

Non-Profit Tally

A larger number of cases have been filed by non-profit religious organizations, such as Christ-centered colleges, faith-based social service agencies, Roman Catholic dioceses, and pro-life organizations. The government defendants have almost invariably sought dismissal, arguing that the availability of the Temporary Enforcement Safe Harbor and the announcement of a new rulemaking process rendered the cases premature. Some courts accepted that argument, while one rejected it. Others refused to dismiss the lawsuits, but put the cases on hold until the defendant agencies issue a new rule. In some cases, we await the court’s ruling. Still others were filed just recently, and the government hasn’t yet responded in any way.

Complaints Filed, No Motion Yet Pending: 2 cases

  • College of the Ozarks v. Sebelius – Western District of Missouri
  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta v. Sebelius – Northern District of Georgia

Motion to Dismiss Denied: 1 case

  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York v. Sebelius – Eastern District of New York

Dismissed:  7 cases

  • Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius – District of Colorado
  • Nebraska v. HHS – District of Nebraska
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Biloxi v. Sebelius – Southern District of Mississippi
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria v. Sebelius – Central District of Illinois
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville v. Sebelius – Middle District of Tennessee
  • University of Notre Dame v. Sebelius – Northern District of Indiana
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh v. Sebelius – Western District of Pennsylvania

Stayed: 4 cases

  • East Texas Baptist University & Houston Baptist University v. Sebelius – Southern District of Texas
  • Louisiana College v. Sebelius – Western District of Louisiana
  • Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius– D.C. Circuit
  • Wheaton College v. Sebelius – D.C. Circuit

Motion to Dismiss Pending: 15 cases

  • Ave Maria University v. Sebelius – Western District of Florida
  • Eternal Word Television Network v. Sebelius – Northern District of Alabama
  • Criswell College v. Sebelius – Northern District of Texas
  • Franciscan University of Steubenville v. Sebelius – Southern District of Ohio
  • Geneva College v. Sebelius –Western District of Pennsylvania
  • Grace Schools and Biola University v. Sebelius – Northern District of Indiana
  • Priests for Life v. Sebelius – Granted preliminary injunction, Eastern District of New York
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie v. Sebelius – Western District of Pennsylvania
  • Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Sebelius — District of Columbia
  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis v. Sebelius – Eastern District of Missouri
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas v. Sebelius – Northern District of Texas
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth v. Sebelius – Northern District of Texas
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend v. Sebelius – Northern District of Indiana
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet v. Sebelius – Northern District of Illinois
  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami v. Sebelius – Southern District of Florida

In many of the cases that have been dismissed, the plaintiffs have appealed – or presumably will appeal soon. In the cases that have been stayed, the courts are waiting for the government to keep its promise to issue a new proposed rule by the end of March 2013. The government dubiously claims that its forthcoming proposed rule, the product of a process begun in March 2012 with HHS’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, will eliminate the Mandate’s burden on the religious freedom of non-profit religious organizations. The “safe harbor” HHS granted to some religious non-profits will begin to expire on August 1, 2013.

This post originally appeared here.

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