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Case Name Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius FA-OK-0005
Docket / Court 5:13-cv-01015-F ( W.D. Okla. )
State/Territory Oklahoma
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On September 20, 2013, a group of religious-based universities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Oklahoma. The plaintiffs sued the federal government under the First Amendment, Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and ... read more >
On September 20, 2013, a group of religious-based universities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Oklahoma. The plaintiffs sued the federal government under the First Amendment, Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Administrative Procedure Act. The plaintiffs, Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University, alleged that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employee and student health plans provide coverage of contraception violated their religious foundings. The plaintiffs, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, asked the court to rule that the ACA's 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 keeping the government from enforcing the contraception insurance mandate against them.

On November 27, 2013, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. On December 23, 2013, the district court (Judge Stephen P. Friot) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the government had not shown that the plaintiffs' objection to certain methods of contraception, including Plan B, frustrated the overall goal of ACA contraception coverage.

On January 17, 2014, the court granted the government's unopposed motion to stay the case until March 1, 2014. The government appealed this case to the Tenth Circuit on February 11, 2014. On July 14, 2015, the Tenth Circuit (Judge Scott Matheson, Jr.) denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, (794 F.3d 1151) in an opinion that joined this case with Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius. 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. The Court considered 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 - 02/24/2014
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
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Religious programs / 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)
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description A group of Christian universities who believe the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate accommodation provided to religious non-profits still violates their religious freedom
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 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-CO-0006 : Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius (D. Colo.)
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)
5:13-cv-1015 (W.D. Okla.) 01/17/2014
FA-OK-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 09/20/2013
FA-OK-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction 11/27/2013
FA-OK-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Support of Their Motion for Preliminary Injunction 11/27/2013
FA-OK-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Defendants’ Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction 12/17/2013
FA-OK-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amici Curiae American Civil Liberties Union and American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction and in Support of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss 12/19/2013
FA-OK-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs’ Reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Their Motion for Preliminary Injunction 12/20/2013
FA-OK-0005-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 12/23/2013 (2013 WL 6804265) (W.D. Okla.)
FA-OK-0005-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Unopposed Motion for Stay of Proceedings 01/16/2014
FA-OK-0005-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Defendants’ Unopposed Motion for Stay of Proceedings 01/17/2014 (W.D. Okla.)
FA-OK-0005-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion Denying Preliminary Injunction, U.S. Circuit Court for the Tenth Circuit 07/14/2015 (794 F.3d 1151)
FA-OK-0005-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 09/03/2015 (799 F.3d 1315)
FA-OK-0005-0013.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-OK-0005-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Supreme Court website
Opinion 05/16/2016 (136 S.Ct. 1557)
FA-OK-0005-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Friot, Stephen P. (W.D. Okla.)
FA-OK-0005-0008 | FA-OK-0005-0010 | FA-OK-0005-9000
Hartz, Harris L. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-OK-0005-0013
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baylor, Gregory S. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0001 | FA-OK-0005-0002 | FA-OK-0005-0003 | FA-OK-0005-0007 | FA-OK-0005-0011 | FA-OK-0005-9000
Blomberg, Daniel Howard (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Bowman, Matthew S. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0001 | FA-OK-0005-0002 | FA-OK-0005-0003 | FA-OK-0005-0007 | FA-OK-0005-0011
Cortman, David A. (Georgia)
FA-OK-0005-0001 | FA-OK-0005-0002 | FA-OK-0005-0003 | FA-OK-0005-0007 | FA-OK-0005-0011
Jordan, John P. (Oklahoma)
FA-OK-0005-0001 | FA-OK-0005-0002 | FA-OK-0005-0003 | FA-OK-0005-0007 | FA-OK-0005-9000
Keim, Adele A. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Rienzi, Mark (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Roberts, Seth Michael (Texas)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Scherz, Carl C. (Texas)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Theriot, Kevin H. (Kansas)
FA-OK-0005-0001 | FA-OK-0005-0002 | FA-OK-0005-0003 | FA-OK-0005-0007 | FA-OK-0005-0011 | FA-OK-0005-9000
Walsh, Kevin C. (Virginia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Defendant's Lawyers Barbero, Megan (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Berwick, Benjamin Leon (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-9000
Brinkmann, Beth S (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Coats, Sanford (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0004 | FA-OK-0005-0009 | FA-OK-0005-0011
Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0004 | FA-OK-0005-0009 | FA-OK-0005-0011
Jed, Adam C. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Klein, Alisa B. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Lieber, Sheila M. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0004 | FA-OK-0005-0009
Nemeroff, Patrick George (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Pollack, Michael Charles (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0004 | FA-OK-0005-0009 | FA-OK-0005-9000
Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0004 | FA-OK-0005-0009
Stern, Mark B. (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Walsh, John F. (Colorado)
FA-OK-0005-0011
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
FA-OK-0005-0006 | FA-OK-0005-9000
Henderson, Brady Ross (Oklahoma)
FA-OK-0005-0006 | FA-OK-0005-9000
Kiesel, Ryan (Oklahoma)
FA-OK-0005-0006
Lee, Jennifer (New York)
FA-OK-0005-0006 | FA-OK-0005-9000
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
FA-OK-0005-0006 | FA-OK-0005-9000

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