University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Roman Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, Inc. v. Sebelius FA-MS-0001
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-00158 ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
This is one of 12 cases filed on May 21, 2012 in federal district courts across the country by Catholic organizations challenging the contraception mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Plaintiffs, a non-profit corporation of Catholic parishes, schools, and charities, filed ... read more >
This is one of 12 cases filed on May 21, 2012 in federal district courts across the country by Catholic organizations challenging the contraception mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Plaintiffs, a non-profit corporation of Catholic parishes, schools, and charities, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against the Federal Government under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of provisions of the ACA extending universal contraception coverage to employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage. Specifically, plaintiffs claim that providing, paying for, or facilitating access to such services is inconsistent with its religious beliefs and contend that compliance with the contraception requirement is a substantial burden on their religious exercise.

On December 20, 2012, the court (Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden) granted the Federal Government's motion to dismiss for lack of ripeness. The court noted that because the contraception mandate was in the process of being amended, as noted by the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM), in its present form the mandate represent only a tentative agency position and was therefore not ripe for review. Plaintiffs' case was dismissed without prejudice.

On January 8, 2013, plaintiffs moved to alter the courts' judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) on the basis that failure to do so would result in manifest injustice. They asked the court to hold the case in abeyance pending the ANPRM amendments or require the Federal Government to file regular status reports on the progress of these amendments. On February 15, 2013, the court (Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden) denied plaintiffs motion, noting that plaintiffs had not requested these alternatives before final judgment and holding that dismissal without prejudice did not work a manifest injustice on them.

Plaintiffs renewed their case on May 27, 2014 in the U.S. District Court of Mississippi. Docket No. 1:14-cv-00146-LG-JCG. The complaint challenged the ACA as finalized. Plaintiffs alleged that although under the amended ACA the Diocese itself likely fell within the "religious employer" exception, affiliated Catholic entities were only considered "eligible organizations" qualifying for an accommodation. This accommodation would require plaintiffs to provide self-certification to their insurance provider setting forth their religious objections to the ACA, in turn trigging an obligation on the part of the insurance provider to procure the services plaintiffs find objectionable. According to the plaintiffs, this series of events made them the but-for cause of providing contraception coverage in violation of their sincerely held beliefs. Plaintiffs continued to ask the court to grant a permanent injunction against enforcement of the relevant provisions of the ACA.

As of November 8, 2014, the case is ongoing.

Denise Heberle - 05/22/2012
Richard Jolly - 11/07/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Bivens
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ยงยง 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of Treasury
Plaintiff Description The Catholic dioceses of Biloxi and Jackson, Mississippi, and schools and nonprofits within them
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:12−cv−00158 (S.D. Miss.) 02/15/2013
FA-MS-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
1:14-cv-00146 (S.D. Miss.) 11/07/2014
FA-MS-0001-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 05/21/2012
FA-MS-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment 12/20/2012 (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Oral Argument [28], Granting Defendants' to Dismiss [15], and Dismissing Case without Prejudice 12/20/2012 (2012 WL 6831407) (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment 02/15/2013 (2013 WL 690990) (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint [Renewed] 03/27/2014
FA-MS-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Guirola, Louis Jr. (S.D. Miss., W.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
FA-MS-0001-9001
Ozerden, Halil Suleyman (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0001-0002 | FA-MS-0001-0003 | FA-MS-0001-0004 | FA-MS-0001-9000
Walker, Robert H. (S.D. Miss.) [Magistrate]
FA-MS-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Burnette, Jason T. (Georgia)
FA-MS-0001-9000
Carmody, Stephen J. (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0001-0001 | FA-MS-0001-0005 | FA-MS-0001-9000 | FA-MS-0001-9001
Lea, Brian C. (Georgia)
FA-MS-0001-9001
Metcalf, Janine Cone (Georgia)
FA-MS-0001-9000 | FA-MS-0001-9001
Monde, David M. (Georgia)
FA-MS-0001-9000
Necaise, Kevin J. (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0001-0001 | FA-MS-0001-0005 | FA-MS-0001-9000
Smith, E. Kendrick (Georgia)
FA-MS-0001-9000 | FA-MS-0001-9001
Thornhill, Rebecca M. (Georgia)
FA-MS-0001-9000
Williams, James R. (Georgia)
FA-MS-0001-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Graben, Stephen R. (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0001-9000
Grogg, Adam Anderson (District of Columbia)
FA-MS-0001-9001
Pruski, Jacek (District of Columbia)
FA-MS-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Lamar, John Thomas Jr (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0001-9000
White, Edward L. III (Michigan)
FA-MS-0001-9000

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