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Case Name Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius FA-CO-0002
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-03350-CMA-BNB ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On December 22, 2011, a Christian liberal arts college filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado 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 December 22, 2011, a Christian liberal arts college filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado 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 coverage for contraception through its group health insurance plan. Specifically, the plaintiff objected to the ACA rules requiring it to provide coverage for emergency contraception, which the plaintiff considered an abortifacient. The plaintiff did not object to other forms of contraception. Claiming that providing coverage for emergency contraception would both contravene its Christian 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 February 27, 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 qualified 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.

The plaintiff filed an amended complaint on March 22, 2012. The amendments expanded on the plaintiff's objections to providing emergency contraception and claimed that the plaintiff would be subject to federal enforcement action no later than July 1, 2014, even given the "safe harbor" period and anticipated amendments. That same day, the plaintiff also filed an opposition to the U.S. motion to dismiss, arguing that it faced imminent harm despite the safe harbor period and anticipated amendments.

On April 9, 2012, the U.S. moved to dismiss the amended complaint for lack of jurisdiction, arguing as before that the safe harbor period and anticipated amendments prevented the plaintiff from alleging any imminent harm. The plaintiff opposed this motion on the same grounds as the first motion to dismiss.

On January 7, 2013, the District Court (Judge Christine M. Arguello) granted the U.S. motion to dismiss. Judge Arguello found that, in light of the government's efforts to address the plaintiff's concerns via the safe harbor period and the anticipated amendments, the plaintiff had not alleged a concrete and imminent harm, and that as a result the plaintiff's claim was not yet ripe for review. Judge Arguello declined to reach the question of the plaintiff's standing. Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius, 2013 WL 93188 (D. Colo. January 07, 2013). The next day, the District Court issued a final judgment dismissing the case in its entirety.

Hannah Swanson - 04/15/2013


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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
School/University policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-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 is a Christian liberal arts university who opposes the use of emergency contraception for religious reasons, and therefore objects to the contraception mandate in the ACA.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:11-cv-3350 (D. Colo.) 01/08/2013
FA-CO-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 12/22/2011
FA-CO-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint 03/22/2012
FA-CO-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying as Untimely Defendants' Objections to Magistrate Judge's Ruling 04/30/2012 (D. Colo.)
FA-CO-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Minute Order 08/06/2012 (D. Colo.)
FA-CO-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 08/31/2012 (D. Colo.)
FA-CO-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Transcript 09/14/2012
FA-CO-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction 01/07/2013 (2013 WL 93188) (D. Colo.)
FA-CO-0002-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment 01/08/2013 (D. Colo.)
FA-CO-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Arguello, Christine M. (D. Colo.)
FA-CO-0002-0002 | FA-CO-0002-0007 | FA-CO-0002-9000
Boland, Boyd N. (D. Colo.) [Magistrate]
FA-CO-0002-0004 | FA-CO-0002-0005 | FA-CO-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baxter, Eric S. (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0002-0003 | FA-CO-0002-9000
Rassbach, Eric C (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0002-0001 | FA-CO-0002-0003 | FA-CO-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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