On March 28, 2013, MK Chambers, a for-profit company filed this lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan under the First Amendment, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and the Administrative Procedure Act against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for an exception to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage of contraception. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that providing insurance coverage of contraception would violate the religious beliefs of the corporation's owners.
On April 4, 2013, Judge Denise Page Hood denied the plaintiff's emergency ex-parte motion for a temporary restraining order. The plaintiffs had sought this motion in order to continue providing insurance coverage to their employees without the medications they object to. Judge Hood's order stated that it was not clear plaintiffs would succeed under their RFRA claim, not likely they would succeed on their First Amendment claim, since the ACA has no purpose to target religions. Judge Hood also found that since the plaintiffs had filed their lawsuit over two months after the mandate went into effect, their claim of irreparable injury was not convincing.
On April 26, 2013, the plaintiff filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction. It argued injunction relief was warranted to prevent the ACA mandate from infringing on the plaintiff's religious beliefs. On May 22, 2013, the defendant filed a memorandum in opposition to injunctive relief and a motion to dismiss on the grounds that plaintiff will not suffer irreparable harm from the mandate.
On June 6, 2013, the defendant re-filed their memorandum in opposition to injunctive relief and filed a separate, amended motion to dismiss as required by the court's local rules. No substantive changes were made to either.
On September 13, 2013, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. The court found the plaintiff was unlikely to show the ACA mandate put a "substantial burden" on the corporation owner's religious beliefs.
On January 31, 2014 the parties filed a joint motion to stay the case until the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
, No. 13- 354; and Conestoga Woods Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, No. 13-356. Judge Denise Page Hood granted the stay on February 21, 2014.
On August 21, 2014, following the Supreme Court's holding in Hobby Lobby that the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA when applied to closely-held for-profit corporations, the parties agreed to a stipulated preliminary injunction in this case. The preliminary injunction said the government could not sanction the plaintiffs for failing to provide contraceptive care to which the plaintiffs hold religious objections.
On November 21, 2014, the district court entered a stipulated order and judgment in this case. The judgment established a permanent injunction against government enforcement of the June 30, 2014 version of the contraceptive mandate at issue in Hobby Lobby, where for-profit corporations could not access a religious exemption to the contraception mandate. After the ruling in Hobby Lobby, the government designed an exemption similar to the one used for non-profit religious employers, allowing religious, closely-held for-profit employers to notify the government of their religious objection to contraception. The government would then work with the insurer directly to provide contraception coverage to the employees.
The court's November 21, 2014 order further awarded attorney fees and costs to the plaintiffs. On March 13, 2015, the plaintiffs withdrew their motion for a hearing on attorney fees and costsMallory Jones - 11/07/2013
Richard Jolly - 04/03/2014
Kate Craddock - 09/18/2016