On January 24, 2013, Freshway Logistics, Inc., and Fresh Unlimited, Inc. (d/b/a Freshway Foods) and their owners filed a lawsuit in the DC District Court against the Federal Government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000bb), the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. § 70 ...
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On January 24, 2013, Freshway Logistics, Inc., and Fresh Unlimited, Inc. (d/b/a Freshway Foods) and their owners filed a lawsuit in the DC District Court against the Federal Government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000bb), the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. § 706(2)), and the First Amendment. Plaintiffs, represented by public interest attorneys from the American Center for Law and Justice, sought to enjoin enforcement of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extending universal contraception coverage in employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage. Plaintiffs contended that this mandatory contraception coverage violated their sincerely held religious beliefs.
On March 3, 2013, the District Court (Judge Emmet Sullivan) denied plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. On March 5, 2013, plaintiffs filed an interlocutory appeal of the denial of preliminary injunction. On March 29, 2013, the DC Circuit Court granted an injunction pending appeal.
On November 1, 2013, the DC Court of Appeals concluded the District Court erred in denying plaintiffs a preliminary injunction with the respect to the individual owners and remanded for consideration of other preliminary-injunction factors. The Court held the company owners religious freedom is burdened when they choose between violating their beliefs and paying a penalty. The Court affirmed, however, the denial of a preliminary injunction with respect to the Freshway companies, holding that corporations cannot exercise religious beliefs. This case was remanded to the D.C. District Court.
Both the government and the plaintiffs sought review in the Supreme Court. The two petitions were held at the Supreme Court while the Court decided Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
(also known as Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius). The Hobby Lobby decision
issued on June 30, 2014: In 5-4 opinion by Justice Alito, the Court held that the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate 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.) The next day, the Supreme Court vacated the D.C. Circuit's opinion and remanded for further consideration. (Technically, the Court denied the goverment's petition, but granted the plaintiffs' petition, vacated the judgment, and remanded.)
On August 18, 2014, the District Court granted a preliminary injunction to allow the plaintiffs to decide how the would like to proceed following the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision. On October 20, 2014, the District Court granted a permanent injunction for the plaintiffs against enforcement of the contraceptive services mandate and associated sanctions, with the agreement of the plaintiffs and the government. The parties conferred and reached an agreement on attorneys' fees and costs, and the case is awaiting an entry of final judgment. Wyatt Fore - 04/12/2013
Richard Jolly - 03/16/2014
Kate Craddock - 02/05/2016