On January 10, 2013, several Catholic business owners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and ...
read more >
On January 10, 2013, several Catholic business owners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan under the First Amendment, 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 as well as those agencies' secretaries in their official capacities. The plaintiffs, represented by the private counsel, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that federal rules adopted pursuant to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") violated their religious freedom by requiring them to provide coverage for contraception through their companies' group health insurance plans. Claiming that providing contraceptive coverage would contravene their Catholic faith, the plaintiffs sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for themselves and other business owners with similar religious objections.
Plaintiffs, shareholders and operators of an environmental contractor that employed 70 people, maintained a health insurance plan that provided medical coverage to all of its employees. In accordance with the plaintiffs' religious beliefs, the healthcare plan specifically excluded abortifacient drugs, contraception, and sterilization. However, the ACA required employers with over 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance coverage that included contraception and surgical sterilization, as well as education and counseling for such services. Failure to comply with the ACA mandate resulted in a monetary penalties.
The complaint alleged that the defendants' actions in implementing the ACA coerced the plaintiffs and thousands of other individuals to engage in acts against their religious beliefs. Specifically, as Catholics, the plaintiffs opposed paying for, providing, facilitating, or otherwise supporting abortifacient drugs, contraception, or elective sterilization, which they claimed was compulsory under the health coverage requirements of the ACA. Plaintiffs alleged this violated their right to freely practice their religion and violated their rights under the RFRA and the APA.
On May 8, 2013, the District Court (Judge Robert J. Jonker) stayed all proceedings until the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the appeals in Autocam Corporation v. Sebelius, No. 1:12-cv-1096 (W.D. Mich. Oct. 8, 2012)
, a case raising similar issues. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Autocam, affirming the denial of injunctive relief and ordering the dismissal of the case.
On September 30, 2013, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims under the APA with prejudice. The District Court dismissed the remaining claims were dismissed for lack of standing. This case is now closed.Tifani Sadek - 10/09/2013