Friday, December 27, 2013

Preliminary Injunction Denied In Contraceptive Mandate Challenge By Nashville Diocese Affiliates

In Catholic Diocese of Nashville v. Sebelius, (MD TN, Dec. 26, 2013), a Tennessee federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the Diocese of Nashville, its affiliated Catholic Charities, and several other affiliated organizations including Aquinas College challenging the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate.  The court held that plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of success on their RFRA, free exercise, free speech and Establishment Clause claims. Finding that the accommodation for religious non-profits does not impose a substantial burden under RFRA, the court said that the burden imposed by the self-certification process required to trigger the accommodation "is too attenuated and speculative to be substantial."  It explained:
Plaintiffs bear no costs for the services and nothing is provided unless a third party employee independently requests the services from yet another third party – the insurer. It is only the independent actions of third parties that result in anyone obtaining contraceptive services.