University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis v. Burwell FA-MO-0012
Docket / Court 4:13-cv-02300 ( E.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On November 14, 2013, the Archdiocese of St. Louis and its affiliated nonprofit charities revived their dismissed claim (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis v. Sebelius), in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of ... read more >
On November 14, 2013, the Archdiocese of St. Louis and its affiliated nonprofit charities revived their dismissed claim (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis v. Sebelius), in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against the federal government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the First Amendment. Th plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought to enjoin enforcement of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extending universal contraception coverage in employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage. The plaintiffs contended that this mandatory contraception coverage violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Specifically, the plaintiffs challenged the religious employer exemption and the accommodations put forth in the government's final rule as amended on June 28, 2013, arguing that the definition of religious employer was too narrow and the rule continued to burden their free exercise. They argued that the accommodations required nonexempt plaintiffs to provide self-certification to their insurance provider setting forth their religious objections, which in turn triggered an obligation on the part of the insurance provider to procure the services plaintiffs found objectionable. The plaintiffs argued that they were thus the but-for cause of providing contraception coverage and asked the court to grant a permanent injunction against enforcement of the relevant provisions of the ACA.

On May 8, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction, seeking to prevent the government from enforcing the contraception mandate against them. On June 30, 2014, Judge John Ross granted the preliminary injunction. The government appealed the order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on August 28, 2014.

On November 12, 2015, the Eighth Circuit decided that it would hold the appeal in abeyance in light of the pending Supreme Court decision in Zubik v. Burwell (See FA-PA-0016 in this Clearinghouse). In Zubik, the Supreme Court declined to rule on the merits of the case and instead held that the parties "should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates [plaintiffs'] religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by [plaintiffs'] health plans ‘receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage."

The government requested that the Eighth Circuit issue an order like the one issued by the Supreme Court in Zubik, acknowledging that the plaintiffs believed they should be exempt from the government's final rule and staying the appeal to provide the government with an opportunity to resolve the plaintiffs' request for an exemption. On September 19, 2016, the Eighth Circuit issued this order. Afterwards, the parties continued to provide status updates regarding a resolution to the plaintiffs' challenge to the Eighth Circuit.

In light of the continuing stay in the appeal of this matter, the district court dismissed without prejudice the government’s motion to dismiss on August 5, 2016.

Since September 19, 2016, the parties have submitted multiple status reports to the Eight Circuit. On May 1, 2017, the plaintiffs submitted a status report asking the court not to take any action on the case as the parties continued discussions pursuant to the Supreme Court's Directive in Zubik. The report noted that the Trump administration had not yet determined its position on the issue.

Richard Jolly - 04/28/2014
Jamie Haberichter - 09/21/2014
MJ Koo - 03/14/2017
Gabriela Hybel - 06/17/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) United States Department of Health and Human Services,
United States Department of Labor
United States Department of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and affiliated non-profit Catholic organizations challenging the mandatory contraception provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
None yet
Order Duration 2014 - n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing FA-MO-0001 : Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis v. Sebelius (E.D. Mo.)
FA-PA-0010 : Zubik v. Sebelius [II] (W.D. Pa.)
Docket(s)
4:13-cv-2300 (E.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 1]
FA-MO-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/14/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [granting Preliminary Injunction] [ECF# 59] (2014 WL 2945859) (E.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0012-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/30/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Ross, John Andrew (E.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0012-0002 | FA-MO-0012-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hogan, Carol A. (Illinois)
FA-MO-0012-0001 | FA-MO-0012-9000
Murashko, Dennis (Illinois)
FA-MO-0012-0001 | FA-MO-0012-9000
Murray, Brian Joseph (Illinois)
FA-MO-0012-0001 | FA-MO-0012-9000
Reidy, Daniel E. (Illinois)
FA-MO-0012-0001 | FA-MO-0012-9000
Rotatori, Mark P. (Illinois)
FA-MO-0012-0001 | FA-MO-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-MO-0012-9000
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
FA-MO-0012-9000
Lee, Jennifer (New York)
FA-MO-0012-9000
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
FA-MO-0012-9000
Rothert, Anthony [Tony] E. (Missouri)
FA-MO-0012-9000

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