University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend v. Sebelius FA-IN-0002
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-00159 ( N.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On May 21, 2012, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth-South Bend and affiliated Catholic organizations filed a U.S. District Court lawsuit in the Eastern District of Missouri against the Federal Government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and ... read more >
On May 21, 2012, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth-South Bend and affiliated Catholic organizations filed a U.S. District Court lawsuit in the Eastern District of Missouri against the Federal Government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the First Amendment. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, seek to enjoin enforcement of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extending universal contraception coverage in employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage. The plaintiffs contend that this mandatory contraception coverage violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.

On March 14, 2013, Judge Jon A. DeGuilio stayed the case for no longer than 45 days pending (1) the finalization of contraceptive coverage rules from the Department of Health and Human Services; and (2) the appeal of University of Notre Dame v. Sebelius in the 7th Circuit. The stay was lifted on July 31, 2013.

On September 6, 2013, the Church amended their complaint to challenge the regulation as amended. They argued that the amended definition of "religious employer" continued to require them to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by facilitating access to contraception services. This is because the accommodations put forth in the amended law require plaintiffs to provide self-certification to their insurance provider setting forth their religious objections, which in turn triggers an obligation on the part of the insurance provider to procure the services plaintiffs find objectionable. The plaintiffs are, thus, the but-for cause of providing contraception coverage. The plaintiffs asked the court to grant a preliminary and permanent injunction against enforcement of the relevant provisions of the ACA.

On December 27, 2013, the District Court (Judge Jon E. Deguilio) granted the Church's motion for preliminary injunction. 2013 WL 6843012 at *1. The court recognized that while the Diocese itself was exempt from the contraception mandate as a religious employer, the remaining affiliated organizations were subject to the self-certification accommodation as put forth in the amended regulation. The Court held that the remaining plaintiffs demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of success on their RFRA challenge, noting that requiring self-certification represented a substantial burden on their religious exercise by compelling them to facilitate and serve as the conduit through which objectionable contraceptive products and services are ultimately provided to their employees. The Court also found that the application of the two regulations-the exemption and the accommodation-had the ultimate effect of dividing the Catholic Church into two separate entities which has created a substantial burden on the Diocese as well. The Court then found that the government did not show that the contraception mandate was the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, noting that were other ways to promote public health and gender equality that were not burdensome on religious liberty.

On February 24, 2014, the Government filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the preliminary injunction. Oral Arguments are scheduled for Dec. 3, 2014.

Christopher Schad - 05/20/2012
Wyatt Fore - 03/29/2013
Richard Jolly - 04/20/2014

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Hospital/Health Department
Religion discrimination
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ยงยง 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 Treasury
Plaintiff Description The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort-Wayne South Bend and a smattering of other Catholic organization.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing FA-IN-0003 : Grace Schools v. Sebelius (N.D. Ind.)
1:12-cv-00159-WCL-RBC (N.D. Ind.)
FA-IN-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/24/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-IN-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/21/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Staying Case and Ordering a Joint Report] [ECF# 61] (N.D. Ind.)
FA-IN-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/14/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Declining Consolidation of Cases] [ECF# 62] (N.D. Ind.)
FA-IN-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/01/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss with Leave to Re-File] [ECF# 70] (N.D. Ind.)
FA-IN-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/31/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 73]
FA-IN-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/06/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Granting Preliminary Injunction] [ECF# 122] (2013 WL 6843012) (N.D. Ind.)
FA-IN-0002-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/27/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cosbey, Roger B. (N.D. Ind.) [Magistrate]
DeGuilio, Jon Ernest (N.D. Ind.)
FA-IN-0002-0004 | FA-IN-0002-0005 | FA-IN-0002-0006 | FA-IN-0002-0008 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers DeJulius, Leon F. Jr. (Pennsylvania)
FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Doelling, Robert E. (Indiana)
FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Downes, W. Patrick (Indiana)
FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Hall, Scott (Indiana)
FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Hogan, Carol A. (Illinois)
FA-IN-0002-0001 | FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Hopkins, William T. Jr. (Indiana)
FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Kairis, Matthew A (Ohio)
FA-IN-0002-0001 | FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Kilmartin, Alison J. (Pennsylvania)
FA-IN-0002-0001 | FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Mulholland, Shane C. (Indiana)
Murphy, Eric E (Ohio)
FA-IN-0002-0001 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Murray, Brian Joseph (Illinois)
FA-IN-0002-0001 | FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Palmisciano, Melissa D (Ohio)
Ranjan, Brandy H (Ohio)
FA-IN-0002-0001 | FA-IN-0002-0007 | FA-IN-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Berwick, Benjamin Leon (District of Columbia)
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
Lee, Jennifer (New York)
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
White, Edward L. III (Michigan)

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