On March 1, 2013, the Christian owners of a closely-held corporation and the corporation itself filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiffs sued the federal government (the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury) under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"). The plaintiffs, represented by in-house counsel, the Thomas More Society, and the Jubilee Campaign - Law of Life Project, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging the federal rules adopted pursuant to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA) violated their religious freedom by requiring the corporation to provide employee insurance coverage for contraception through its group health insurance plan. Claiming that providing coverage for contraception would contravene both their Christian faith and compel speech and association contrary to their beliefs, the plaintiffs sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for themselves and other institutions with similar religious objections.
On July 12, 2013, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. On July 13, 2013, the government filed a motion to stay proceedings in light of Korte v. Sebelius
and Grote v. Sebelius
, cases raising the same issue pending before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The government also gave notice of non-opposition to a preliminary injunction until the Grote and Korte appeals were resolved.
On July 16, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas M. Durkin granted the preliminary injunction. On August 14, 2013, the Court granted the government's motion to stay proceedings until the Seventh Circuit issued a decision in Korte and Grote. On September 30, 2015, the District Court granted a permanent injunction in favor of the plaintiffs, following the Court's decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius
. The plaintiffs had requested an injunction of any regulation related to the ACA's contraception mandate, but the Court limited the injunction to the regulations implementing the mandate that were at issue in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and the plaintiffs' complaint. Those regulations would have required all for-profit corporations, whether closely held or not, to provide contraception as part of their employee health plan. The Supreme Court also denied review in Korte, and the lower courts addressed it under Hobby Lobby. On November 30, 2015, the plaintiffs in this case appealed to the Seventh Circuit. On February 9, 2016, the Seventh Circuit granted the government's motion to hold the appeal in abeyance pending Supreme Court review of Zubik v. Burwell [II]
On May 16, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a per curiam order in Zubik remanding all seven consolidated cases to their respective courts of appeals. The Court ordered 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. Following that order, the Seventh Circuit heard oral argument in this case on November 1, 2016. The case focused on whether district court should have issued an injunction against the version of the contraception mandate at issue in Hobby Lobby (as the district court did) or an injunction against all further enforcement of the contraceptive services mandate. This case is ongoing. Emma Lawton - 10/05/2013
Richard Jolly - 04/06/2014
Kate Craddock - 11/13/2016