On October 19, 2012, two evangelical Christian business owners filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The plaintiffs brought suit under the First and Fifth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ( ...
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On October 19, 2012, two evangelical Christian business owners filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The plaintiffs brought suit under the First and Fifth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. Represented by private counsel and the American Center for Law and Justice, the plaintiffs asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief. The suit alleged that federal rules adopted as part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") violated their religious freedom by requiring them to provide coverage for contraception through their company's group health insurance plans. Specifically, the plaintiffs objected to the ACA rules requiring them to provide coverage for emergency contraception, which the plaintiffs considered an abortifacient. Claiming that providing coverage for emergency contraception would both contravene their Christian faith and compel speech contrary to their beliefs, the plaintiffs sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for themselves and other business owners with similar religious objections.
On December 20, 2012, the District Court (Judge Richard E. Dorr) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that the plaintiffs had demonstrated a threat of imminent irreparable harm and that the question of whether the mandate was justified by a compelling government interest merited "deliberate investigation." American Pulverizer Co. v. DHHS, Slip Op. 2012 WL 6951316 (W.D. Mo. Dec. 20, 2012). Judge Dorr further found that the facts of the case were nearly identical to those in O'Brien v. HHS, in which the Eighth Circuit had recently stayed the same defendant departments from enforcing the contraception mandate against the plaintiffs, evangelical Christian small-business owners.
The defendants appealed the injunction to the Eighth Circuit (Case No. 13-1395). On February 20, 2013, District Court Judge Goldberg granted the defendants' joint motion to stay the district court proceedings pending the Eighth Circuit appeal. On February 26, 2013, in a clerk order not attributed to any individual judge, the Eighth Circuit granted the defendants' motion to hold the case in abeyance pending its own decision in the O'Brien appeal (Case No. 12-3357). On April 21, 2014, this case was reassigned to District Judge M. Douglas Harpool. On September 4, 2014, the Eighth Circuit granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the appeal following the Supreme Court's decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius
, on June 30, 2014. On October 30, 2014, the District Court granted a permanent injunction for the plaintiffs. The injunction protected the plaintiffs against government enforcement of the version of the contraception mandate that existed prior to the Hobby Lobby decision. Prior to Hobby Lobby, closely-held for-profit religious employers did not have an opportunity to notify the government of their objection to the contraception mandate, and compel the government to work with their insurer to provide contraception coverage directly to their employees. The decision did not preclude the plaintiffs from bringing suit under later versions of the mandate.
The parties agreed that petitions for attorney's fees or costs would be submitted to the court by January 28, 2015, but no petitions were submitted during that period. Hannah Swanson - 06/14/2013
Mallory Jones - 02/09/2014
Kate Craddock - 04/10/2016