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Case Name East Texas Baptist University v. Sebelius FA-TX-0005
Docket / Court 4:12-cv-03009 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On October 9, 2012, two Baptist universities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. They alleged violations of their rights under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA") by the U.S. ... read more >
On October 9, 2012, two Baptist universities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. They alleged violations of their rights under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA") by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that federal rules adopted pursuant to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) violated their religious freedom and free speech rights by requiring them to provide coverage for contraception through their group health insurance plans. Claiming that providing contraceptive coverage would both defy their Baptist faith and compel speech contrary to their beliefs, the plaintiffs sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for themselves and other organizations with similar religious objections.

Judge Lee H. Rosenthal granted a stay on December 20, 2012. On March 8, 2013, Westminster Theological Seminary filed a motion to intervene. The court granted an unopposed motion to lift the stay on July 31, 2013. On December 27, 2013, the District Court granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs on their RFRA claim and enjoined the government from enforcing the ACA contraception insurance mandate against the plaintiffs.

On February 24, 2014, the government appealed the case to the Fifth Circuit. On April 28, 2014, the Fifth Circuit consolidated this case with University of Texas v. Sebelius and Roman Catholic Diocese of Beaumont v. Sebelius. On January 19, 2015, the Fifth Circuit denied the plaintiffs’ request for hearing en banc. On June 22, 2015, the Fifth Circuit (Judge Jerry E. Smith) reversed the relevant district court holdings that the requirement to notify the government of their religious objection to the contraceptive services mandate violated RFRA. 793 F.3d 449. On July 2, 2015, the court denied the request of plaintiff Westminster Theological Seminary to stay the mandate or rehear the case. On September 30, 2015, the court denied the plaintiffs’ request for rehearing en banc, but granted the plaintiffs’ motion to stay on October 7, 2015, pending filing of a petition for writ of certiorari. 807 F.3d 630.

On November 6, 2015, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to consider whether notifying the federal government by signing a form identifying the employer as a religious nonprofit that objects to the contraceptive services mandate (so that the government can work with the insurer or benefits provider to ensure employees have contraceptive coverage) violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or constitutes the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government interest. This case was consolidated with six other cases dealing with this issue. Together, the cases are known as Zubik v. Burwell [II].

This case was argued in the Supreme Court on March 23, 2016. On March 29, 2016, in an unusual move, the Court directed the parties to file supplemental briefs suggesting a solution to their disagreement, in which employees could still receive contraception coverage without employers giving any notice to the government. On May 16, 2016, the Court issued a per curiam order remanding all seven cases to their respective courts of appeals, ordering the lower courts to give the parties time to come to agreement on an approach that that "accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners’ health plans 'receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.'" 136 S.Ct 1557, 1560. The Court took no position on the merits of this case. This case is now being considered on remand by the Fifth Circuit.

Hannah Swanson - 03/15/2013
Mallory Jones - 02/18/2014
Kate Craddock - 06/12/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
School/University policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
U.S. Dept. of Labor
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff East Texas Baptist University is a Christian liberal arts university located in Marshall, Texas. Plaintiff Houston Baptist University is a Christian liberal arts university located in Houston, Texas. Due to their religious beliefs, Plaintiffs oppose the use of contraception.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing FA-PA-0005 : Geneva College v. Sebelius (W.D. Pa.)
FA-DC-0018 : Priests for Life v. Sebelius (D.D.C.)
FA-DC-0001 : Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Sebelius (D.D.C.)
FA-CO-0006 : Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius (D. Colo.)
FA-OK-0005 : Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius (W.D. Okla.)
FA-PA-0010 : Zubik v. Sebelius [II] (W.D. Pa.)
Docket(s)
4:12-cv-3009 (S.D. Tex.) 11/10/2015
FA-TX-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 10/09/2012
FA-TX-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Combined Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Preliminary Injunction 08/30/2013
FA-TX-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Support of Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Preliminary Injunction 08/30/2013
FA-TX-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Weminster Theological Seminary's Motion for Partial Summary Judgmen and Preliminary Injunction 09/09/2013
FA-TX-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment 09/20/2013
FA-TX-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motions for Preliminary Injunction, and in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment 09/20/2013
FA-TX-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion for a Stay of Litigations Schedule in Light of Lapse of Appropriations 10/01/2013
FA-TX-0005-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 10/03/2013 (S.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0005-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff Universities' Combined Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment and Reply in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Prelimiary Injunction and Partial Summary Judgment 10/17/2013
FA-TX-0005-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Opinion 12/27/2013 (988 F.Supp.2d 743) (S.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0005-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Injunction 12/27/2013 (S.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0005-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 04/28/2014
FA-TX-0005-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 07/21/2014
FA-TX-0005-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 10/21/2014
FA-TX-0005-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
On Motion for Hearing En Banc 01/19/2015
FA-TX-0005-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 06/22/2015 (793 F.3d 449)
FA-TX-0005-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 07/02/2015
FA-TX-0005-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 09/30/2015 (807 F.3d 630)
FA-TX-0005-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order to Stay Pending Petition for Writ of Certiorari 10/07/2015
FA-TX-0005-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 10/07/2015
FA-TX-0005-0021.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supreme Court Order Granting Certiorari 11/06/2015 (136 S.Ct. 444)
FA-TX-0005-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Supreme Court website
Opinion 06/12/2016 (136 S.Ct. 1557)
FA-TX-0005-0022.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Clement, Edith Brown (E.D. La., Fifth Circuit)
FA-TX-0005-0017
Dennis, James L. (Fifth Circuit)
FA-TX-0005-0014 | FA-TX-0005-0015
Jones, Edith Hollan (Fifth Circuit)
FA-TX-0005-0020
Rosenthal, Lee Hyman (S.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0005-0008 | FA-TX-0005-0010 | FA-TX-0005-0011 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Smith, Jerry Edwin (Fifth Circuit)
FA-TX-0005-0013 | FA-TX-0005-0018 | FA-TX-0005-0019 | FA-TX-0005-0020 | FA-TX-0005-0021
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baxter, Eric S. (District of Columbia)
FA-TX-0005-0001 | FA-TX-0005-0002 | FA-TX-0005-0003 | FA-TX-0005-0009 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Keller, Scott A. (Texas)
FA-TX-0005-0001 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Rassbach, Eric C (District of Columbia)
FA-TX-0005-0001 | FA-TX-0005-0002 | FA-TX-0005-0003 | FA-TX-0005-0009 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Simpson, Reagan W. (Texas)
FA-TX-0005-0002 | FA-TX-0005-0003 | FA-TX-0005-0009 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Verm, Diana Marie (District of Columbia)
FA-TX-0005-0002 | FA-TX-0005-0003 | FA-TX-0005-0009 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Wynne, Kenneth R. (Texas)
FA-TX-0005-0004 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Wynne, David E. (Texas)
FA-TX-0005-0004
Zucker, James E (Texas)
FA-TX-0005-0002 | FA-TX-0005-0003 | FA-TX-0005-0009 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-TX-0005-9000
Hu, Daniel David (Texas)
FA-TX-0005-9000
Pruski, Jacek (District of Columbia)
FA-TX-0005-0005 | FA-TX-0005-0006 | FA-TX-0005-0007 | FA-TX-0005-9000
Other Lawyers Robertson, Rebecca Lynn (Texas)
FA-TX-0005-9000

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