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Case Name Diocese of Cheyenne v. Sebelius FA-WY-0001
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-00021-SWS ( D. Wyo. )
State/Territory Wyoming
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On Jan. 30, 2014, a number of Wyoming-based Catholic organizations, filed this lawsuit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment against the federal department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and ... read more >
On Jan. 30, 2014, a number of Wyoming-based Catholic organizations, filed this lawsuit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment against the federal department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate (including the accommodation offered by the government to some of the plaintiff-organizations) violated the FRFA and First Amendment.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the accommodation provided by HHS for certain religious organizations, which requires them to self-certify that they meet certain criteria and provide a copy of the self-certification to its insurance company or third-party administrator, still burdens their religious faith. Under the accommodation, their insurance plans, the plaintiffs argue, "are the vehicle by which 'free' abortion-inducing products, contraception, sterilization, and related counseling are delivered to the organizations' employees."

The plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction, which the Court (Judge Scott W. Skavdahl) denied on May 13th, 2014. The Court determined that submitting a self-certification to their insurance carriers is not a substantial burden on the organizations' religious exercise. The self-certification "enables nothing," Jusge Skavdahl wrote. "The sole 'enabler' is the federal statute that [plaintiffs] ha[ve] been allowed to opt out of." (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, the Court held, the plaintiffs did not establish their likely success on the merits, and a preliminary injunction was not warranted.

The plaintiffs filed an interlocutory appeal, and the district court stayed the case until that appeal was resolved. On June 30, 2014, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (Judges Lucero and Matheson) reversed the district court and granted the preliminary injunction provided that the plaintiffs "inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing" that they are non-profit, religious organizations that have religious objections to providing contraceptive services. The plaintiffs did not, however, need to inform their insurance carriers of anything. The court based this injunction on one the Supreme Court had granted in a similar case, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, Denver Colo. v. Sebelius, 134 S. Ct. 1022 (Jan. 24, 2014) (mem.).

As of December 2014, the case is still ongoing.

Andrew Junker - 12/08/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
School/University policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
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. Government
Plaintiff Description Religious organizations in Wyoming
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
2:14-cv-00021-SWS (D. Wyo.) 07/14/2014
FA-WY-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 01/30/2014
FA-WY-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order denying plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction 05/13/2014 (21 F.Supp.3d 1215) (D. Wyo.)
FA-WY-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
10th Cir. Order Amending Notification Requirement 06/30/2014
FA-WY-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lucero, Carlos F. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-WY-0001-0003
Matheson, Scott Milne Jr. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-WY-0001-0003
Skavdahl, Scott Wesley (D. Wyo.) [Magistrate]
FA-WY-0001-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dreiband, Eric S. (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Francisco, Noel (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-0001 | FA-WY-0001-9000
Hickey, Paul J. (Wyoming)
FA-WY-0001-0001 | FA-WY-0001-9000
Raimer, David T. (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-0001 | FA-WY-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Martin, C Levi (Wyoming)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Saltman, Julie Shana (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Horvath, Jennifer (Wyoming)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Lee, Jennifer (New York)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-9000

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