On August 14, 2013, private citizens filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Missouri against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the First Amendment. The plaintiff, represented by the public interest ...
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On August 14, 2013, private citizens filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Missouri against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the First Amendment. The plaintiff, represented by the public interest firm Thomas More Society, asked the court for an exception to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage of contraception. Due to the ACA mandate, the plaintiffs' employer, the State of Missouri, only offered a health insurance plan that includes contraception coverage. The plaintiffs claimed paying for this health insurance plan violated their Catholic religious beliefs and their right to family integrity.
On September 10, 2013, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiffs do not have claim upon which relief can be granted. The defendants' motion argued that the ACA contraception mandate applies only to employers, not private individuals. Furthermore, defendants argued that if the government began allowing individual exceptions to certain aspects of insurance policies the group insurance model would fall apart.
On October 16, 2013, the court (Judge Jean C. Hamilton) granted defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of standing. The court found that because plaintiffs' alleged injuries were linked with the independent discretionary actions of the State and his health insurance provider, neither of which were parties to the action, plaintiffs alleged only indirect causation between the contraception mandate and their alleged injuries. Moreover, plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that an injunction of the governments' policy would alter the behavior of these third parties. These third parties would retrain discretion not to offer plaintiff a health plan that excludes contraception and abortion.
Plaintiffs appealed, and on July 20, 2015, the Court of Appeals reversed. In an opinion by Judge Wollman, the Court pointed out that prior to the enactment of the contraception mandate, the insurance provider and the state had been willing to offer the plaintiffs a contraceptive-free healthcare plan. It concluded that this was persuasive evidence that the insurance provider might well alter its policy if the plaintiffs succeeded on the merits of their claim, and therefore that the injury was not too speculative for adjudication. The case was remanded to the district court for decision on the merits.Mallory Jones - 10/16/2013
Richard Jolly - 04/05/2014