On December 3, 2013, the University of Notre Dame, a religious non-profit university, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Notre Dame alleged that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraception insurance mandate, even with the accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, violated the establishment clause and free speech clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Notre Dame sought preliminary and permanent injunctions barring the government from enforcing the contraception insurance mandate to avoid a violation of Notre Dame's deeply-held religious beliefs.
On December 20, 2013, the District Court (Judge Philip P. Simon) denied Notre Dame's motion for preliminary injunction. The Court found that the ACA's insurance accommodation, which allowed the head of an eligible organization to provide self-certification which in turn triggered a third-party administrator to provide contraception coverage to the organization's employees, did not impose a substantial burden on the free exercise of the religion. University of Notre Dame v. Sebelius, 988 F.Supp.2d 912 (N.D. IN. 2013) The same day, Notre Dame filed an interlocutory appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (No. 13-3853) and a motion for preliminary injunction with the District Court pending their appeal.
On December 23, 2013, the District Court denied the plaintiff's motion for injunction pending appeal and on December 30, 2013, the Seventh Circuit denied the plaintiff's emergency motion for injunction pending appeal.
On February 21, 2014, the Seventh Circuit (Judge Richard Posner) affirmed the District Court's denial of preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals found that the ACA's insurance accommodation was consistent with the balancing act required by RFRA and therefore it did not substantially burden the free exercise of plaintiffs. University of Notre Dame v. Sebelius, 743 F.3d 547 (N.D. IN. 2014).
On May 7, 2014, the Seventh Circuit denied plaintiffs' April 4, 2014, motion for rehearing.
Notre Dame sought review in the Supreme Court, and on March 9, 2015, the Court granted the writ of certiorari, vacating the judgment and remanding the case to the Seventh Circuit for further consideration in light of its decision (after the 7th Circuit's decision) in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014). University of Notre Dame v. Burwell, 135 U.S. 1258 (2015) (cert. granted). In Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court had held that the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violated RFRA, when applied to closely-held for-profit corporations. The Court emphasized, however, that alternative methods for meeting the government's asserted interest were available.
On remand, after hearing oral arguments on April 22, 2015, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court's denial of preliminary injunction on May 19, 2015, holding that Notre Dame had not met its burden of establishing an entitlement to a preliminary injunction. University of Notre Dame v. Burwell, 786 F.3d 606 (7th Cir. 2015).
Notre Dame sought rehearing on July 2, 2015; the case is pending. Mallory Jones - 04/07/2014
Richard Jolly - 05/11/2014
Beth Richardson - 07/08/2015