Saturday, December 21, 2013

Two More Courts Issue Preliminary Injunctions In Non-Profit Challenges To Contraceptive Mandate Accommodation

Yesterday, two more federal district courts granted preliminary injunctions in RFRA challenges by religious non-profits to the final rules designed to accommodate their objections to the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate. In Legatus v. Sebelius, (ED MI, Dec. 20, 2013), a Michigan federal district court held that requiring the non-profit organization Legatus to fill out the self-certification form indicating its religious objections amounted to a substantial burden on its free exercise of religion, since the form triggers provision of contraceptive coverage by the insurer. The court also concluded that the government is unlikely at trial to be able to show that it has a compelling interest for imposing the burden, or that it has used the least restrictive means to achieve it goals.

In Reaching Souls International, Inc. v. Sebelius, (WD OK, Dec, 20, 2013), an Oklahoma federal district court, relying largely on the 10th Circuit's Hobby Lobby decision in a for-profit case, found that the accommodation created a substantial burden on free exercise.  It granted a preliminary injunction barring enforcement against all nonprofit religious organizations that provide benefits to employees through health plans sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention's GuideStone Financial Resources. Becket Fund issued a press release announcing the decision. [Thanks to Luke Goodrich for the lead.]