Case: Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius

1:11-cv-03350 | U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Filed Date: Dec. 22, 2011

Closed Date: 2013

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On December 22, 2011, a Christian liberal arts college filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. The plaintiff, represented by in-house counsel and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that f…

On December 22, 2011, a Christian liberal arts college filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. The plaintiff, represented by in-house counsel and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that federal rules adopted pursuant to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") violated its religious freedom by requiring it to provide coverage for contraception through its group health insurance plan. Specifically, the plaintiff objected to the ACA rules requiring it to provide coverage for emergency contraception, which the plaintiff considered an abortifacient. The plaintiff did not object to other forms of contraception. Claiming that providing coverage for emergency contraception would both contravene its Christian faith and compel speech contrary to its beliefs, the plaintiff sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for itself and other institutions with similar religious objections.

On February 27, 2012, the defendant Departments moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. The U.S. argued that the plaintiff could not claim any imminent harm because the plaintiff qualified for the enforcement "safe harbor" period extending until January 1, 2014, and because the U.S. was in the process of amending the contraceptive coverage regulations to accommodate the objections of religious institutions like the plaintiff.

The plaintiff filed an amended complaint on March 22, 2012. The amendments expanded on the plaintiff's objections to providing emergency contraception and claimed that the plaintiff would be subject to federal enforcement action no later than July 1, 2014, even given the "safe harbor" period and anticipated amendments. That same day, the plaintiff also filed an opposition to the U.S. motion to dismiss, arguing that it faced imminent harm despite the safe harbor period and anticipated amendments.

On April 9, 2012, the U.S. moved to dismiss the amended complaint for lack of jurisdiction, arguing as before that the safe harbor period and anticipated amendments prevented the plaintiff from alleging any imminent harm. The plaintiff opposed this motion on the same grounds as the first motion to dismiss.

On January 7, 2013, the District Court (Judge Christine M. Arguello) granted the U.S. motion to dismiss. Judge Arguello found that, in light of the government's efforts to address the plaintiff's concerns via the safe harbor period and the anticipated amendments, the plaintiff had not alleged a concrete and imminent harm, and that as a result the plaintiff's claim was not yet ripe for review. Judge Arguello declined to reach the question of the plaintiff's standing. Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius, 2013 WL 93188 (D. Colo. January 07, 2013). The next day, the District Court issued a final judgment dismissing the case in its entirety.

Summary Authors

Hannah Swanson (4/15/2013)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5257736/parties/colorado-christian-university-v-sebelius/


Judge(s)

Arguello, Christine M. (Colorado)

Boland, Boyd N. (Colorado)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Baxter, Eric S. (District of Columbia)

Rassbach, Eric C (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Arguello, Christine M. (Colorado)

Boland, Boyd N. (Colorado)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Baxter, Eric S. (District of Columbia)

Rassbach, Eric C (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Jan. 8, 2013 Docket
1

Complaint

Dec. 22, 2011 Complaint
26

First Amended Complaint

March 22, 2012 Complaint
33

Order Denying as Untimely Defendants' Objections to Magistrate Judge's Ruling

April 30, 2012 Order/Opinion
43

Minute Order

Aug. 6, 2012 Order/Opinion
59

Order

Aug. 31, 2012 Order/Opinion
62

Transcript

Sept. 14, 2012 Transcript
81

Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction

2013 WL 93188

Jan. 7, 2013 Order/Opinion
82

Final Judgment

Jan. 8, 2013 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Colorado Christian University v. Azar

Becket Law

In August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a federal mandate that required employers to provide services like the week-after pill in their health insurance plans. The mandate … July 11, 2018 https://www.becketlaw.org/case/colorado-christian-university-v-price/

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5257736/colorado-christian-university-v-sebelius/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
5

ORDER Scheduling Conference set for 2/29/2012 at 02:00 PM in Courtroom A 401 before Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland. By Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland on 1/6/12. (cmacd ) Modified on 1/9/2012 to fix hearing date(cmacd ).

Jan. 6, 2012 RECAP
43

Minute ORDER: 41 Defendants' Renewed Motion to Stay Discovery is DENIED. by Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland on 8/6/12.(bnbcd, ) Modified on 8/7/2012 to correct title (dkals, ).

Aug. 6, 2012 RECAP
58

COURTROOM MINUTES/MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland: Motion Hearing held on 8/31/2012. 44 Renewed Motion to Stay Discovery is DENIED. 49 Unopposed Motion for Extension Deadlines is GRANTED. Discover y due by 1/1/2013, Dispositive Motions due by 2/1/2013. FTR: BNB Courtroom A401. (bnbcd, ) Modified on 9/4/2012 to correct deadline (dkals, ). (Main Document 58 replaced on 9/7/2012 to show correct date of Discovery Deadline 1/2/13 as originally indicated and stated on the record) (bnbcd, ).

Aug. 31, 2012 RECAP
59

ORDER: by Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland on 8/31/12. (bnbcd, )

Aug. 31, 2012 RECAP
73

COURTROOM MINUTES/MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland: Motion Hearing held on 11/30/2012. 63 Motion to Compel Discovery Responses is TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT. FTR: BNB Courtroom A401. (bnbcd, )

Nov. 30, 2012 RECAP
81

ORDER granting 31 Defendants' Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss. CCU's 63 Motion to Compel Discovery Responses and the parties' 78 Joint Motion for Extension of Case Management Deadlines are denied as moot. This case is dismissed without prejudice, in its entirety, for lack of jurisdiction. By Judge Christine M. Arguello on 1/7/13.(mnfsl, ) Modified on 1/8/2013 to correct filed date (mnfsl, ).

Jan. 7, 2013 RECAP
82

FINAL JUDGMENT by Clerk, re: 81 Order. By Clerk on 1/8/13. (mnfsl, )

Jan. 8, 2013 RECAP

State / Territory: Colorado

Case Type(s):

Speech and Religious Freedom

Special Collection(s):

Contraception Insurance Mandate

Key Dates

Filing Date: Dec. 22, 2011

Closing Date: 2013

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiff is a Christian liberal arts university who opposes the use of emergency contraception for religious reasons, and therefore objects to the contraception mandate in the ACA.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Federal

U.S. Dept. of Labor, Federal

U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Hospital/Health Department

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

Constitutional Clause(s):

Freedom of speech/association

Free Exercise Clause

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General:

Contraception

Religious programs / policies

School/University policies

Discrimination-basis:

Religion discrimination

Type of Facility:

Non-government non-profit