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Case Name Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius FA-CO-0006
Docket / Court 13-cv-2611-WJM-BNB ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On September 24, 2013, a group of non-profit Catholic-based organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Colorado under the First Amendment, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Administrative Procedure Act against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The ... read more >
On September 24, 2013, a group of non-profit Catholic-based organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Colorado under the First Amendment, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Administrative Procedure Act against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiffs, who all provide health care to their employees through the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, were represented by the public interest firm Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The plaintiffs asked the court to rule that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraception insurance mandate, even with the accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, was unconstitutional. Specifically, the plaintiffs asked for both a preliminary and permanent injunction to keep the government from enforcing the contraception insurance mandate.

On October 24, 2013, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The defendants opposed this motion on the grounds that the accommodation to the ACA mandate does not substantially burden the plaintiffs' religious freedom under RFRA or cause the plaintiffs irreparable harm.

On November 8, 2013, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of standing, or, alternatively for summary judgment. On December 27, 2013, Judge William J. Martinez denied the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and the defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of standing. On December 27, 2013, the plaintiff appealed the court's decision to deny preliminary injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (No. 13-1540). On December 31, 2013, the appellate court denied the plaintiff's motion for an emergency injunction. That same day, however, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor granted plaintiff's requested injunction pending receipt of a response by the government. On Jan. 24, 2014, the Supreme Court issued an injunction pending appeal, stating:

"If the employer applicants inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the respondents are enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. To meet the condition for injunction pending appeal, applicants need not use the form prescribed by the Government and need not send copies to third-party administrators. The Court issues this order based on all of the circumstances of the case, and this order should not be construed as an expression of the Court's views on the merits."

On March 6, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to consolidate this appeal with two similar cases: Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius and Reaching Souls International v. Sebelius. On March 31, 2014, the Court of Appeals denied the defendant's motion to consolidate.

However, on July 14, 2015, the Court of Appeals denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction in an opinion that joined this case and Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius. (794 F.3d 1151). The same day, the plaintiffs petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. The plaintiffs objected to using the expanded accommodation designed by the court, in which they would not have to notify their insurers directly about their religious opposition to contraception, but would have to communicate that opposition and the name of their insurer to the Department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiffs requested a rehearing en banc, but the Tenth Circuit denied the request in an order on September 3, 2015. 799 F.3d 1315.

On November 6, 2015, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case in order 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 on March 23, 2016. On March 29, 2016, in an unusual move, the Supreme 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 Tenth Circuit.

Mallory Jones - 03/31/2014
Kate Craddock - 06/12/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description Non-profit Catholic organizations that believe the Affordable Care Act's contraception insurance mandate violates their religious beliefs
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
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-OK-0002 : Reaching Souls International Inc. v. Sebelius (W.D. Okla.)
FA-OK-0005 : Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius (W.D. Okla.)
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-TX-0005 : East Texas Baptist University v. Sebelius (S.D. Tex.)
FA-PA-0010 : Zubik v. Sebelius [II] (W.D. Pa.)
Docket(s)
1:13-cv-02611-WJM-BNB (D. Colo.) 11/10/2015
FA-CO-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 09/24/2013 (2013 WL 5331098)
FA-CO-0006-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying in Part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction 12/27/2013 (2013 WL 6839900) (D. Colo.)
FA-CO-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Denying Plaintiffs-Appellants' Emergency Motion for an Injunction Pending Appeal) 12/31/2013
FA-CO-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Order (Temporarily Enjoining Respondents) 12/31/2013 (134 S.Ct. 893)
FA-CO-0006-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order in Pending Case 01/24/2014 (134 S.Ct. 1022)
FA-CO-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Supreme Court website
Order Denying Preliminary Injunction, US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit 07/14/2015 (794 F.3d 1191)
FA-CO-0006-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 09/03/2015 (799 F.3d 1315)
FA-CO-0006-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supreme Court Order Granting Certiorari 11/06/2015 (136 S.Ct. 444)
FA-CO-0006-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Supreme Court website
Opinion 05/16/2016 (136 S.Ct. 1557)
FA-CO-0006-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Baldock, Bobby Ray (D.N.M., FISCR, Tenth Circuit)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Boland, Boyd N. (D. Colo.) [Magistrate]
FA-CO-0006-9000
Hartz, Harris L. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-CO-0006-0008
Kelly, Paul Joseph Jr. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-CO-0006-0003
Lucero, Carlos F. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-CO-0006-0003
Martinez, William Joseph (D. Colo.)
FA-CO-0006-0002 | FA-CO-0006-9000
Matheson, Scott Milne Jr. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-CO-0006-0007
McKay, Monroe G. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Sotomayor, Sonia (SCOTUS, Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
FA-CO-0006-0004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baylor, Gregory S. (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Blomberg, Daniel Howard (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0001 | FA-CO-0006-0007 | FA-CO-0006-9000
Bowman, Matthew S. (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Cortman, David A. (Georgia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Keim, Adele A. (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0001 | FA-CO-0006-0007 | FA-CO-0006-9000
Rienzi, Mark (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0001 | FA-CO-0006-0007 | FA-CO-0006-9000
Roberts, Seth Michael (Texas)
FA-CO-0006-0001 | FA-CO-0006-0007 | FA-CO-0006-9000
Scherz, Carl C. (Texas)
FA-CO-0006-0001 | FA-CO-0006-0007 | FA-CO-0006-9000
Theriot, Kevin H. (Kansas)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Walsh, Kevin C. (Virginia)
FA-CO-0006-0001 | FA-CO-0006-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Barbero, Megan (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-9000
Brinkmann, Beth S (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Coats, Sanford (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Humphreys, Bradley Philip (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-9000
Jed, Adam C. (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Klein, Alisa B. (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Nemeroff, Patrick George (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Stern, Mark B. (District of Columbia)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Walsh, John F. (Colorado)
FA-CO-0006-0007
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
FA-CO-0006-9000

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