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Conlon v. Sebelius

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

February 8, 2013

R. Daniel CONLON, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, as Successor Trustee Under the Provisions of the Trust Agreement Dated December 31, 1949; Catholic Charities Diocese of Joliet, Inc; The Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield-In-Illinois; Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Springfield-In-Illinois; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; and Saint Patrick High School, Plaintiffs,
v.
Kathleen SEBELIUS, in her official capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Hilda Solis, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Department of Labor; Timothy Geithner; in his official capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Labor; and U.S. Department of Treasury, Defendants.

Page 1127

Daniel E. Reidy, Carol A. Hogan, Dennis Murashko, Mark P. Rotatori, Brian Joseph Murray, Jones Day, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiffs.

Benjamin Leon Berwick, Bradley Philip Humphreys, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, AUSA, United States Attorney's Office, Chicago, IL, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

On August 8, 2012, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, alleging nine separate

Page 1128

counts against Defendants with regards to the enactment and enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (" ACA" ). Plaintiffs assert that because they are Catholic, religious entities and employers, the requirements of the ACA to provide contraceptive, sterilization, and abortion services to employees violate Plaintiffs' sincerely held religious beliefs. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2-5.) Specifically, Plaintiffs allege Defendants, in the enactment and enforcement of the ACA, violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the Administrative Procedure Act. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 200-304.) Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, arguing Plaintiffs lack standing, and that the matter is not ripe for adjudication. For the reasons presented below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted, and the Amended Complaint is dismissed without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

The instant action is one of many filed across the country, challenging the legality of the ACA's regulations regarding contraception and preventative care. In granting a similar motion to dismiss on the basis of standing and ripeness, Judge Boasberg of the District of D.C. provided a detailed explanation of the statutory history. See Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius, 878 F.Supp.2d 25 (D.D.C.2012)( Belmont Abbey ). The United States Department of Health and Human Services enlisted the guidance of the Institute of Medicine, a private health policy organization, to establish guidelines regarding preventative health care for the Health Resources and Services Administration (" HRSA" ). The Institute of Medicine suggested, among other proposals, that insurance plans be required to cover contraceptives and sterilization procedures, including emergency contraceptives, such as the " morning-after" pill. Id. at 29. HRSA adopted these proposed guidelines; and, on August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Treasury (" the Departments" ) issued an interim final rule, requiring group insurance plans to cover the preventative services for women suggested by the Institute of Medicine. Id. at 29-30 (quoting 76 Fed. Reg. 46621; 45 C.F.R. § 147.130). According to the federal regulation, all insurance plans and policies, unless specifically exempt, must provide women coverage for contraceptive services, beginning on August 1, 2012, without any cost-sharing requirements. Id.

The Departments acknowledged the impact on the religious beliefs of some religious employers if they were required to cover contraceptive services. Wheaton College v. Sebelius, 887 F.Supp.2d 102, 105-06 (D.D.C.2012)( Wheaton College ). The interim final rule gave exemption to certain employers, including churches or religious orders, and other employers that meet the following criteria:

(1) The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization. (2) The organization primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization. (3) The organization serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the organization. (4) The organization is a nonprofit organization as described in section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

45 C.F.R. § 147.130(a)(1)(iv)(B). The Departments invited comments to the interim final rule, specifically with regards to the definition of religious employer, described above. In response to the comments received,

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the Departments stated the ...


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