Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tom Monaghan Related Catholic Non-Profits Win Preliminary Injunction Against Contraceptive Coverage Rules

In Ave Maria Foundation v. Sebelius, (ED MI, Jan. 13, 2014), a Michigan federal district court granted a preliminary injunction to five non-profit organizations, including the Thomas More Law Center, barring the government from requiring them to comply with the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate accommodation for religious non-profits. The organizations were all founded by Catholic philanthropist and Domino Pizza founder Tom Monaghan. The court concluded that plaintiffs have a strong likelihood of succeeding on their claim that the self-certification rule imposes a substantial burden under RFRA on the organizations' religious exercise, saying in part:
the government's argument amounts to disbelief that the self-certification has much religious significance. And adopting this argument would therefore require an examination of the ... rationality of Plaintiffs' convictions — a task beyond the Court's ability or competence.... [H]aving conceded that the accommodation requires Plaintiffs to change their behavior in some way — here, by executing a certification — the government cannot then label that newly required action as trivial. It is not the government's business to decide what behavior has religious significance.
Rejecting the government's argument that it nevertheless has a compelling interest in enforcing the mandate compromise, the court said:
Here, the sheer number of exceptions and stays to the HRSA Mandate undercut the government's argument that requiring religious objectors to provide contraceptive coverage furthers vital interests.