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Ass'n of Christian Schs. Int'l v. Burwell

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 26, 2014

ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS INTERNATIONAL, SAMARITAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL, TAYLOR UNIVERSITY, INDIANA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY, ASBURY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, and ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM, Plaintiffs,
v.
SYLVIA M. BURWELL, in her official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, THOMAS E. PEREZ, in his official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Labor, JACOB J. LEW, in his official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, and UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, Defendants

Page 1285

For Association of Christian Schools International, Indiana Wesleyan University, Plaintiffs: David Andrew Cortman, Alliance Defending Freedom-Lawrenceville, Lawrenceville, GA; Kevin H. Theriot, Alliance Defending Freedom-Leawood, Leawood, KS; Michael Jeffrey Norton, Alliance Defending Freedom-Greenwood Village, Greenwood Village, CO; Gregory S. Baylor, Alliance Defending Freedom-DC, Washington, DC.

For Samaritan Ministries International, Plaintiff: David Andrew Cortman, Alliance Defending Freedom-Lawrenceville, Lawrenceville, GA; Kevin H. Theriot, Alliance Defending Freedom-Leawood, Leawood, KS; Michael Jeffrey Norton, Alliance Defending Freedom-Greenwood Village, Greenwood Village, CO; Paul Michael Brodersen, Sr., J. Brian Heller, P.C., Washington, IL; Gregory S. Baylor, Alliance Defending Freedom-DC, Washington, DC.

For Taylor University, Plaintiff: Brian James Paul, Tara Schulstad Sciscoe, Ice Miller, LLP-Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN; David Andrew Cortman, Alliance Defending Freedom-Lawrenceville, Lawrenceville, GA; Kevin H. Theriot, Alliance Defending Freedom-Leawood, Leawood, KS; Michael Jeffrey Norton, Alliance Defending Freedom-Greenwood Village, Greenwood Village, CO; Gregory S. Baylor, Alliance Defending Freedom-DC, Washington, DC.

For Asbury Theological Seminary, Alliance Defending Freedom, Plaintiffs: Gregory S. Baylor, Alliance Defending Freedom-DC, Washington, DC.

For Sylvia M. Burwell, in her official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Thomas E. Perez, in his official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Labor, Jacob J. Lew, in his official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury, United States Department of Health and Human Services, United States Department of Labor, United States Department of the Treasury, Defendants: Michelle Renee Bennett, U.S. Department of Justice-DC-Federal Programs Branch, Washington, DC.

Page 1286

ORDER

PHILIP A. BRIMMER, United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on two motions for a preliminary injunction: one filed by plaintiffs Association of Christian Schools International (" ACSI" ), Samaritan Ministries International (" SMI" ), Taylor University, and Indiana Wesleyan University (" IWU" ) [Docket No. 11] (the " original motion" ), and a second motion filed by plaintiffs Asbury Theological Seminary (" ATS" ) and Alliance Defending Freedom (" ADF" ) [Docket No. 24].[1] The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are Christian non-profit organizations challenging a particular aspect[2] of the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the " Act" ), 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4) (the " mandate" ). Plaintiffs' principal claim -- and the sole basis for their preliminary injunction motion -- is that the mandate imposes a substantial burden on their religious exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (" RFRA" ). 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq.[3]

A. The Mandate

The mandate requires group health plans, including both insured and self-insured employer-based plans, to include minimum coverage for a variety of preventative health measures at no cost to covered beneficiaries. 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a); see also id. § 300gg-91(a) (defining " group health plan" ). With respect to women's health, the Act required the Health Resources and Services Administration (" HRSA" ) to develop " comprehensive guidelines" that would define the required preventative services that must be covered free of charge. Id. § 300gg-13(a)(4). HRSA, in reliance on work performed by the independent Institute of Medicine, established guidelines for women's preventative services that include screening for gestational diabetes, human papillomavirus testing, counseling for sexually transmitted infections, and, as relevant to this motion, " [a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity." See Health Resources and Servs. Admin., Women's Preventive Services Guidelines, http://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines.

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In February 2012, the three agencies responsible for the Act's implementation -- the Department of Health and Human Services (" HHS" ), the Department of Labor (" DOL" ), and the Department of the Treasury (" Treasury" ) (collectively, the " Departments" ) -- each issued regulations that adopted the HRSA's guidelines, thus requiring group health plans to cover contraceptive services. See 45 C.F.R. § 147.130(a)(1)(iv) (HHS); 29 C.F.R. § 2590.715-2713(a)(1)(iv) (DOL); 26 C.F.R. § 54.9815-2713(a)(1)(iv) (Treasury).

1. The Religious Employer Exemption

In August 2011, HHS issued an interim final regulation that adopted HRSA's guidelines as applied to contraceptive coverage. See 76 Fed.Reg. 46621 (Aug. 3, 2011). In light of concerns over " the effect on the religious beliefs of certain religious employers if coverage of contraceptive services were required in the group health plans in which employees in certain religious positions participate[,]" the interim final regulation provided HRSA with discretion to exempt certain religious employers from the mandate. Id. at 46623. This exemption would apply to any employer that

(1) Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(I) or (iii) of the [Internal Revenue] Code. Section 6033(a)(3)(A)(I) and (iii) refer to churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and ...

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