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Case Name Dordt College v. Sebelius FA-IA-0001
Docket / Court 5:13-cv-04100 ( N.D. Iowa )
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On October 23, 2013, a non-profit organization filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa 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 ... read more >
On October 23, 2013, a non-profit organization filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa 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 plaintiff, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, asked the court to rule that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraception insurance mandate, even with the accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, is unconstitutional. Specifically, the plaintiff asked for a permanent injunction keeping the government from enforcing the contraception insurance mandate against the organization and other similarly situated religious non-profits.

On January 10, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on the grounds that the accommodation to the ACA mandate does not substantially burden the plaintiffs' religious freedom under RFRA or cause the plaintiffs irreparable harm.

On May 21, 2014, the District Court granted the plaintiffs preliminary injunctive relief on the basis that the plaintiffs had shown they were sufficiently likely to succeed on their merits, when considering the Eighth Circuit had twice granted injunctions pending appeal to similarly situated plaintiffs challenging the mandate.

On July 18, 2014, defendants filed notice of appeal to the preliminary injunction.

On September 17, 2015, the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion affirming the District Court's injunctive relief for the plaintiff. The Court accepted the the plaintiff's argument that they will be forced to violate their religious beliefs by complying with either the contraceptive mandate or the accommodation process or to incur severe monetary penalties for refusing to comply. The court argues that the current accommodation process is not the least restrictive means of furthering the government's interests and that the plaintiffs would be substantially likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the mandate and accommodation process substantially burden their exercise of religion in violation of RFRA.

On Nov. 24, 2015, the parties jointly moved to further stay proceedings pending Supreme Court review of related cases. The parties stated that the Supreme Court had recently granted certiorari in seven other cases "raising substantially similar Religious Freedom Restoration Act challenges to the same regulations that Plaintiffs challenge in this case." The parties further indicated that the government may seek cert. of this decision as well. In addition, the government may decide to seek certiorari of the Eighth Circuit’s September 17, 2015 decision. The court granted the stay on Nov. 30.

The government moved for cert. in the Supreme Court on Dec. 15, 2015, which the court granted on May 16, 2016. In that order, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded the case in light of Zubik v. Burwell, in which the Supreme Court vacated and remanded the lower court rulings in the various consolidated cases. Without ruling on the merits, SCOTUS directed the parties to attempt to resolve their conflict as both sides had indicated mutually beneficial resolutions was possible. On June 17, the Eighth Circuit vacated its judgment and reopened this case.

The case is ongoing, though there has been no substantial activity since June 2016.

Mallory Jones - 03/15/2014
Maria Ricaurte - 10/11/2015
Virginia Weeks - 10/09/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Contraception
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description A non-profit organization that believes the ACA's contraception insurance mandate violates the university's religious freedom.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
5:13−cv−04100 (N.D. Iowa)
FA-IA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/17/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-IA-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/23/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 11]
FA-IA-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/10/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment; Defendants' Statement of Material Facts in Support of; Defendants' Memorandum in Support of [ECF# 12]
FA-IA-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/10/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amici Curae American Civil Liberties Union and American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa in support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, In the Alternative, for Summary Judgment [ECF# 22]
FA-IA-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/21/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment; Plaintiffs' Response to Defendants' Statement of Material Facts [ECF# 35]
FA-IA-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/07/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order for Injunctive Relief [ECF# 46] (22 F.Supp.3d 934) (N.D. Iowa)
FA-IA-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/21/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion - 8th Circuit (801 F.3d 946)
FA-IA-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Date: 10/11/2015
Opinion [Supreme Court] (136 S.Ct. 2006)
FA-IA-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/16/2016
Source: Westlaw
Judges Bennett, Mark W. (S.D. Iowa, N.D. Iowa)
FA-IA-0001-0006 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Benton, William Duane (Eighth Circuit)
FA-IA-0001-0007
Colloton, Steven M. (Eighth Circuit)
FA-IA-0001-0007
Sotomayor, Sonia (SCOTUS, S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
FA-IA-0001-0008
Strand, Leonard Terry (N.D. Iowa) [Magistrate]
FA-IA-0001-9000
Wollman, Roger Leland (Eighth Circuit)
FA-IA-0001-0007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baylor, Gregory S. (District of Columbia)
FA-IA-0001-0001 | FA-IA-0001-0004 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Bos, Carole D. (Michigan)
FA-IA-0001-0001 | FA-IA-0001-0004
Bowman, Matthew S. (District of Columbia)
FA-IA-0001-0001 | FA-IA-0001-0004 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Cortman, David A. (Georgia)
FA-IA-0001-0001 | FA-IA-0001-0004 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Dykstra, Daniel D. (Iowa)
FA-IA-0001-0001 | FA-IA-0001-0004 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Theriot, Kevin H. (Kansas)
FA-IA-0001-0001 | FA-IA-0001-0004 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Wright, Jeff W. (Iowa)
FA-IA-0001-0001 | FA-IA-0001-0004 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Berry, Sean (District of Columbia)
FA-IA-0001-0005
Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia)
FA-IA-0001-0005
Lee, Jennifer (New York)
FA-IA-0001-0003 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Lieber, Sheila M. (District of Columbia)
FA-IA-0001-0005
Pollack, Michael Charles (District of Columbia)
FA-IA-0001-0002 | FA-IA-0001-0005 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
FA-IA-0001-0003 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Dewart, Deborah Jane (North Carolina)
FA-IA-0001-9000
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
FA-IA-0001-0003 | FA-IA-0001-9000
Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia)
FA-IA-0001-0005
Schreurs, Micah (Iowa)
FA-IA-0001-9000
Wilson, Randall C. (Iowa)
FA-IA-0001-0003 | FA-IA-0001-9000

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