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Case Name Eternal World Television Network v. Sebelius FA-AL-0002
Docket / Court 2:12-cv-00501-SLB ( N.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On February 9, 2012, a Catholic media network filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human ... read more >
On February 9, 2012, a Catholic media network filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. The plaintiff, represented by in-house 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 its religious freedom by requiring it to provide employee insurance coverage for contraception through its group health insurance plan. Claiming that providing coverage for contraception would both contravene its Catholic faith and compel speech contrary to its beliefs, the plaintiff sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for itself and other institutions with similar religious objections.

On May 4, 2012, the defendant departments moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. The U.S. argued that the plaintiff could not claim any imminent harm because the plaintiff had not alleged any facts showing that it did not qualify for the enforcement "safe harbor" period extending until January 1, 2014, and because the U.S. was in the process of amending the contraceptive coverage regulations to accommodate the objections of religious institutions like the plaintiff. In its brief opposing the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff argued that it could claim imminent harm because the anticipated amendments likely would not change the offensive contraception coverage requirement.

On March 25, 2013, Chief District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn granted the U.S. motion to dismiss. Chief Judge Blackburn found that, while the plaintiff had alleged sufficient imminent harm to establish standing to bring the case, the government's efforts to address the plaintiff's concerns via the anticipated amendments rendered the plaintiff's claim not yet ripe for review.

On October 28, 2013, Plaintiff's revived their complaint in the Southern District of Alabama. Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. et al v. Sebelius (1:13-cv-00521-CG-C).

Hannah Swanson - 04/08/2013
Richard Jolly - 03/16/2014


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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
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ยงยง 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
U.S. Dept. of Labor
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) is a Catholic media network based in Irondale, Alabama. Plaintiff opposes providing coverage for contraception due to its religious beliefs.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing FA-AL-0003 : Eternal World Television Network v. Sebelius (S.D. Ala.)
Docket(s)
2:12-cv-501 (N.D. Ala.) 02/22/2013
FA-AL-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
First Amended Complaint 03/21/2012
FA-AL-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
State of Alabama's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Intervene 03/22/2012
FA-AL-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint 05/04/2012 (2012 WL 1619668) (N.D. Ala.)
FA-AL-0002-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 05/09/2012 (N.D. Ala.)
FA-AL-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 06/01/2012 (2012 WL 2029917)
FA-AL-0002-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Reply in Support of Their Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint 06/25/2012 (2012 WL 2578357)
FA-AL-0002-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervenors' Notice of Recent Factual and Legal Developments 02/05/2013
FA-AL-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction] 03/25/2013 (N.D. Ala.)
FA-AL-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 03/25/2013 (935 F.Supp.2d 1196) (N.D. Ala.)
FA-AL-0002-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Blackburn, Sharon Lovelace (N.D. Ala.)
FA-AL-0002-0004 | FA-AL-0002-0006 | FA-AL-0002-0009 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brasher, Andrew L. (Alabama)
FA-AL-0002-0002 | FA-AL-0002-0003 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Duncan, S. Kyle (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0001 | FA-AL-0002-0007 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Kniffin, Eric N (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0001 | FA-AL-0002-0007 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Parker, William G. Jr. (Alabama)
FA-AL-0002-0002 | FA-AL-0002-0003 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Payne, Joshua Kerry (Alabama)
FA-AL-0002-0002 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Rienzi, Mark (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0001
Strange, Luther J (Alabama)
FA-AL-0002-9000
Windham, Lori H. (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0007 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0005
Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0005 | FA-AL-0002-0008
Gershengorn, Ian Heath (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0005 | FA-AL-0002-0008
Lieber, Sheila M. (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0005 | FA-AL-0002-0008
Nelson, James D. (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0005
Pruski, Jacek (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0008 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0005 | FA-AL-0002-0008
Vance, Joyce White (Alabama)
FA-AL-0002-0005 | FA-AL-0002-0008 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Womack, Eric R. (District of Columbia)
FA-AL-0002-0005 | FA-AL-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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