On August 9, 2012, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the First Amendment against the Federal Government. Plaintiffs, represented by private ...
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On August 9, 2012, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the First Amendment against the Federal Government. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court to enjoin enforcement of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extending universal contraception coverage to employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage. Specifically, the Diocese contended that compliance with the contraception coverage requirement violates their sincerely held religious beliefs. The Diocese further argued that even though its current coverage had "grandfathered" status and so the Diocese did not face impending government enforcement action, it is unable to change its health care plans without losing grandfathered status. If the Diocese does make changes to its healthcare plans, the contraception mandate will impede budgetary planning as any non-compliance fines must be allocated within those budgets.
On October 19, 2012, the Federal Government moved to dismiss the case pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(1), arguing that the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction based on plaintiffs' standing and that the claim was not ripe for review.
On January, 4, 2013, the court (Chief Judge James E. Shadid) granted the Federal Government's motion to dismiss. 2013 WL 74240 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2013). The court found that the Diocese had grandfather status and would only lose that status by adopting a new healthcare policy, a decision that is of the Diocese own choosing. Because the Diocese had not provided any specific and non-hypothetical changes that it was refraining from making to its healthcare plan, the court held that it lacked standing.
Additionally, the court found the Diocese's claim was not ripe because the Federal Government had stated that it would not enforce the contraception mandate in its current form. The court recognized that forthcoming amendments to the mandate were intended to specifically address the Diocese concerns by establishing alternative means of providing contraceptive coverage. Accordingly, the court concluded that the Diocese claim rested upon contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or may not occur at all. The court dismissed the case without prejudice as premature, stating that the Diocese may bring the claim again once the harm is no longer contingent on future events and is less speculative.Richard Jolly - 03/06/2014