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Case Name Diocese of Cheyenne v. Sebelius FA-WY-0001
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-00021-SWS ( D. Wyo. )
State/Territory Wyoming
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On Jan. 30, 2014, several Wyoming-based Catholic organizations, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act against the federal department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked ... read more >
On Jan. 30, 2014, several Wyoming-based Catholic organizations, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act against the federal department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate (including the accommodation offered by the government to some of the plaintiff-organizations) violated the FRFA and First Amendment.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the accommodation provided by HHS for certain religious organizations, which requires them to self-certify that they meet certain criteria and provide a copy of the self-certification to its insurance company or third-party administrator, still burdens their religious faith. Under the accommodation, their insurance plans, the plaintiffs argue, "are the vehicle by which 'free' abortion-inducing products, contraception, sterilization, and related counseling are delivered to the organizations' employees."

The plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction, which District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl denied on May 13, 2014. The Court determined that submitting a self-certification to their insurance carriers is not a substantial burden on the organizations' religious exercise. The self-certification "enables nothing," Jusge Skavdahl wrote. "The sole 'enabler' is the federal statute that [plaintiffs] ha[ve] been allowed to opt out of." (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, the Court held, the plaintiffs did not establish their likely success on the merits, and a preliminary injunction was not warranted.

The plaintiffs filed an interlocutory appeal, and the district court stayed the case until that appeal was resolved. On June 30, 2014, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Judges Lucero and Matheson) reversed the district court and granted the preliminary injunction provided that the plaintiffs "inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing" that they were non-profit, religious organizations with religious objections to providing contraceptive services. The plaintiffs did not, however, need to inform their insurance carriers of anything. The court based this injunction on one granted by the Supreme Court in a factually similar case, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius, 134 S. Ct. 1022 (2014).

On Oct. 18, 2017, the stay was lifted. On October 6, 2017, President Trump changed federal government's policy on the matter, removing the requirement that employers provide contraception coverage through health insurance plans. Later in October 2017, the plaintiffs stipulated to dismissal of the case, which the defendant did not oppose. The case was dismissed on Nov. 8, 2017.

Andrew Junker - 12/08/2014
Elizabeth Greiter - 01/09/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
School/University policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
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 The Diocese of Cheyenne and Catholic organizations in Wyoming.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2014 - n/a
Filing Year 2014
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing FA-CO-0006 : Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius (D. Colo.)
Docket(s)
2:14-cv-00021-SWS (D. Wyo.)
FA-WY-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-WY-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order denying plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction [ECF# 42] (21 F.Supp.3d 1215) (D. Wyo.)
FA-WY-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/13/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
10th Cir. Order Amending Notification Requirement
FA-WY-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lucero, Carlos F. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-WY-0001-0003
Matheson, Scott Milne Jr. (Tenth Circuit)
FA-WY-0001-0003
Rankin, Kelly H. Court not on record [Magistrate]
FA-WY-0001-9000
Skavdahl, Scott Wesley (D. Wyo.)
FA-WY-0001-0002 | FA-WY-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dreiband, Eric S. (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Francisco, Noel (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-0001 | FA-WY-0001-9000
Hickey, Paul J. (Wyoming)
FA-WY-0001-0001 | FA-WY-0001-9000
Raimer, David T. (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-0001 | FA-WY-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Martin, C Levi (Wyoming)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Saltman, Julie Shana (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Horvath, Jennifer (Wyoming)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Lee, Jennifer (New York)
FA-WY-0001-9000
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
FA-WY-0001-9000

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