Friday, June 06, 2014

Court Grants Preliminary Injunction To For-Profits and Non-Profits Challenging Required Contraceptive Coverage

In Catholic Benefits Association LCA v. Sebelius, (WD OK, June 4, 2014), an Oklahoma federal district court granted a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the contraceptive coverage mandate against both non-profit and for-profit members of the Catholic Benefits Association, a third-party administrator of health insurance plans for Catholic employers. As to for-profit employers, the court was bound by the 10th Circuit's decision in Hobby Lobby.  Finding that the non-profit employers also suffered a substantial burden on their religious exercise by completing the opt-out form that results in contraceptive coverage directly from the third-party administrator, the court said in part:
the Court’s inquiry is focused upon how the plaintiffs themselves measure their degree of complicity in an immoral act, not whether a reasonable observer would consider the plaintiffs complicit in such an act....  Here, Plaintiffs sincerely believe that in executing the form and providing it to their issuers or TPAs, they play a central role in the provision of contraceptive services to their employees—something Plaintiffs find morally repugnant. This is where the Court’s inquiry ends, as it is not the Court’s role to say Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs are mistaken.
The court concluded, however, that as to the Archdioceses of Oklahoma City and of Baltimore, no substantial burden on religious exercise existed because they are totally exempt from the contraceptive coverage mandate. AP reports on the decision. (See prior related posting.)