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Case Name State of New York v. Dept. of Health and Human Servs. FA-NY-0009
Docket / Court 1:19-cv-05435-PAE ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Public Accomm./Contracting
Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Planned Parenthood Litigation
Case Summary
This suit consolidates a number of challenges to a rule from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that allows healthcare providers to refuse medical treatment or services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs. Based on an 2017 executive order by President Trump ... read more >
This suit consolidates a number of challenges to a rule from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that allows healthcare providers to refuse medical treatment or services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs. Based on an 2017 executive order by President Trump and a memorandum from then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the rule promoted an expansive reading of religious discrimination law that could allow any entity involved with a medical procedure to object to the procedure on religious grounds. It also set up a comprehensive enforcement regime for compliance. This rule would have had a particular impact on abortion access and transgender procedures, especially in low-income communities.

The two main sets of plaintiffs are State governments, represented by their attorney generals, and a number of health-related nonprofit organizations, including Planned Parenthood. The Government plaintiffs filed their complaint on May 21, 2019, and private plaintiffs filed two separate challenges on June 11, 2019, and June 14, 2019, before the three suits were consolidated. Plaintiffs alleged that the rule misinterpreted long-standing congressional statutes cabining the right to refuse to provide medical treatment and violated various sections of the Administrative Procedure Act. Plaintiffs contended that the rule conflicted with the establishment clause of the First Amendment by impermissibly promoting religious beliefs, with the Fifth Amendment on account of the rule’s vagueness and violation of plaintiff’s right to privacy, with the Spending Clause of the Constitution, with the Separation of Powers doctrine. Plaintiffs sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, attorneys' fees, and for the rule to be vacated.

On August 2, 2019, the court (District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer) wrote an opinion allowing the intervention of the Christian Medical and Dental Association to argue in favor of the rule. However, on November 6, 2019, after ten amicus briefs, the court granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs, vacating the rule in full. The court found that the rule exceeded the scope of the so-called “conscience provisions,” congressional statutes that addressed moral and religious objections to abortion and other procedures. Much of the legislation around the healthcare industry over the past 40 years has contained these provisions so that healthcare entities will not be discriminated against for failing to assist in abortions and other procedures.

The court found HHS, as an administrative agency, impermissibly expanded the scope of these provisions in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The court also held that the regulatory scheme enacted by HHS also exceeded the agency’s legal authority. The holding went on to conclude that HHS’s rule conflicted with the traditional Title VII framework on discrimination and was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Protective Act. Finally, the court held that the rule was unconstitutional in violation of the Separation of Powers and the Spending Clause of the Constitution. 414 F.Supp.3d 475.

Summary judgment was granted and the court vacated HHS’s rule, which is now up on appeal in the Second Circuit.

Dan Toubman - 02/23/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Establishment Clause
Federalism
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Reasonable Accommodations
Medical/Mental Health
Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
State Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Alex M. Azar
Department of Health and Human Services
Office For Civil Rights at Department of Health and Human Services
Roger Severino
Plaintiff Description Planned Parenthood, state governments, other health-related nonprofits.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2019 - n/a
Filed 2019
Case Ongoing Yes
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)
1:19-cv-05435 (S.D.N.Y.)
FA-NY-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
FA-NY-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion & Order [ECF# 65] (2019 WL 3531960) (S.D.N.Y.)
FA-NY-0009-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/02/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 122] (414 F.Supp.3d 475) (S.D.N.Y.)
FA-NY-0009-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/06/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Engelmayer, Paul Adam Court not on record show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0002 | FA-NY-0009-0004 | FA-NY-0009-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001 | FA-NY-0009-9000
Deutsch, Elizabeth (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001
Dunn, Christopher (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001 | FA-NY-0009-9000
Gill, Elizabeth O. (California) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001 | FA-NY-0009-9000
Harrist, Erin Beth (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001 | FA-NY-0009-9000
Kaley, Lindsey (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001 | FA-NY-0009-9000
Kolbi-Molinas, Alexa Rebecca (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001 | FA-NY-0009-9000
Lieberman, Donna (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-0001 | FA-NY-0009-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Humphreys, Bradley Philip (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-9000
Takemoto, Benjamin Thomas (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-9000
Other Lawyers Edens, Geraldine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Harle, Denise (Georgia) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-9000
Harris, Susan Feigin (Texas) show/hide docs
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Mac Dougall, Sarah (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-9000
Manning, Susan Baker (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-9000
Moody, Anna Augusta (New York) show/hide docs
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Revesz, Richard L. (New York) show/hide docs
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Schuster, Stephanie (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Selden, Shannon Rose (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-9000
Skinner, Peter M (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0009-9000

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