Wednesday, January 16, 2013

TRO Issued In Small Business Conscience Challenge To State Contraceptive Mandate

In recent months there has been an outpouring of religious liberty concerns over the federal contraceptive coverage mandate. However, as pointed out by The Catholic Review, 28 states have their own contraceptive coverage mandates, albeit with religious employer exemptions of various sorts, and often with exclusions for self-insured ERISA plans. Courts in New York and California have upheld state mandates over objections of church agencies, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused review in both cases.  Now a new challenge to a state mandate-- this time in Illinois-- has met initial success in a case brought by a Catholic-owned small business.  Triune Health Group, Inc. has already won a preliminary injunction against the federal mandate. (See prior posting.) Now, in Yep v. Illinois Department of Insurance, (Dupage Co. IL Cir. Ct., Jan. 15, 2013), an Illinois state trial court has issued a temporary restraining order against the Illinois state insurance mandate (215 ILCS 5/356z.4) in a suit by Triune and its Catholic owners who claim that the state mandate violates the rights guaranteed to them by the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act and the Illinois state constitution.  The court concluded that "Plaintiffs have raised a fair question as to the likelihood of success on their claim that the contraception mandate imposes a substantial burden on their religious exercise." Thomas More Society issued a press release announcing the decision.