Monday, November 21, 2022

Challenge To HHS Health Care Non-Discrimination Rules Is Moot

 In American College of Pediatricians v. Becerra, (ED TN, Nov. 18, 2022), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed for lack of standing a challenge to a rule promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services that barred discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the furnishing of health care.  The court said in part:

Given Plaintiffs’ failure to allege any of the McKay factors, the availability of a religious exemption by which they are arguably protected from enforcement, which has not yet been interpreted otherwise, the fact that Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit before seeking an exemption, and the Supreme Court’s mandate that the standing inquiry is “especially rigorous when reaching the merits of the dispute would force [a court] to decide the constitutionality of an action taken by one of the other two branches of the Federal Government,” the Court finds Plaintiffs have not established standing as to their claims. 

The court also concluded that plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge an HHS rule requiring grant recipients to recognize same-sex marriages.

Plaintiffs do not allege that HHS has any history of enforcing the 2016 Grants Rule against them or others, or that Plaintiffs have received any sort of enforcement warning regarding the 2016 Grants Rule.

The court's 41-paage opinion traces the complex history of rulemaking and litigation as to both rules.