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Case Name Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia v. Sebelius FA-PA-0011
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-03096-RB ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
This is one of many lawsuits brought challenging the Obama administration's 2012 Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring employers to pay for employees' contraception and abortifacients via medical insurance coverage. Many religious hospitals, charities, universities, and other ... read more >
This is one of many lawsuits brought challenging the Obama administration's 2012 Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring employers to pay for employees' contraception and abortifacients via medical insurance coverage. Many religious hospitals, charities, universities, and other enterprises owned or controlled by religious organizations or individuals who opposed contraception on doctrinal grounds argued the mandate violated their religious beliefs. For a full list of these cases please see our collection of the Contraception Insurance Mandate cases here.

Several non-profit corporations (Affiliates), which were affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia (Archdiocese) and participated in the archdiocese health care plan, were required under the Affordable Care Act and its regulations (Mandate), as issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to sign and deliver a self-certification to a third party administrator. The administrator could unilaterally choose to supply abortifacients and contraceptive services, in contradiction of the religious belief held by the Affiliates. Meanwhile, the Archdiocese, which was itself exempted from the Mandate, refused to facilitate any provision of contraceptive services in the archdiocese health care plan for the same religious reason.

Not wanting to pay any monetary penalties for noncompliance with the Mandate or to expel the Affiliates from the plan, the Archdiocese, along with the Affiliates, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under the Declaratory Judgment Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (the "RFRA"). The complaint against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Treasury was filed on June 2, 2014 and the plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as attorneys' fees. They claimed that the defendants, through the Mandate, had imposed a substantial burden on their exercise of religion, in violation of the RFRA as well as the First Amendment Free Exercise and Free Speech clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

On June 26, 2014, the District Court (Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter) denied the Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. Judge Buckwalter raised doubts as to Plaintiffs' standing to bring their RFRA challenge and found that Plaintiffs had not met their burden to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims. 2014 WL 2892502 (E.D. Pa. June 26, 2014). That same day, the Plaintiffs appealed to the Third Circuit (14-3126).

On September 2, 2014, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the District Court's judgement and remanded the case for reconsideration of the denial of the Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. The Third Circuit also enjoined the Government from imposing any fines until the District Court makes its decision on reconsideration.

On August 23, 2016, the parties issued a joint status report indicating that the district court had stayed all proceedings in this matter pending the Third Circuit’s resolution of Zubik v. Burwell, which was remanded after the Supreme Court's directive that the parties develop accommodations for religious exercise. 136 S. Ct. 1557 (2016).

The parties continued to file a number of status reports indicating that they were working on a joint resolution to this case. On August 24, 2018, the parties stipulated to dismiss this action with prejudice pursuant to private agreements entered into by the parties.

The case is now closed.

Emma Bao - 11/12/2014
Elena Malik - 11/08/2017
Michael Beech - 04/05/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-area
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action 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 Roman Catholic archdiocese and its affiliated non-profit corporations participating in the archdiocese health care plan, required under the Affordable Care Act to provide coverage in the health plans for certain preventive care for women, including potential abortifacients.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2016 - 2018
Filing Year 2014
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
2:14−cv−03096 (E.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/24/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-PA-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [Stating the Court will Deny Plaintiffs' Motion for Injunctive Relief] [ECF# 37] (E.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 003111746557]
FA-PA-0011-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Status Report [ECF# 55]
FA-PA-0011-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Buckwalter, Ronald Lawrence (E.D. Pa.) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0002 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Chagares, Michael A. (Third Circuit) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0003 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Centrella, Nicholas M. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0001 | FA-PA-0011-0004 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Emmerich, Frank R. Jr. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0001 | FA-PA-0011-0004 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Voss, Joshua (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0001 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-9000
Grogg, Adam Anderson (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0004 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Lieber, Sheila M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0004 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Memeger, Zane D. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0004 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Mizer, Benjamin C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0004 | FA-PA-0011-9000
Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0011-0004 | FA-PA-0011-9000

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