Case: Right to Life Michigan v. Sebelius

1:13-cv-01202 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan

Filed Date: Nov. 4, 2013

Closed Date: 2015

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On November 4, 2013, Right to Life of Michigan ("Right to Life") filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan against the Federal Government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the First Amendment, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extending universal contrace…

On November 4, 2013, Right to Life of Michigan ("Right to Life") filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan against the Federal Government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the First Amendment, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extending universal contraception coverage to employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage. Specifically, Right to Life of Michigan contended that compliance with the contraception coverage requirement violated its sincerely held religious beliefs.

On January 13, 2014, the federal Government moved to dismiss the complaint. The Department of Justice argued that Right to Life challenged aspects of the ACA that had been superseded by the 2013 Final Rule, which, the U.S. suggested granted accommodation to eligible non-profit religious organizations. Right to Life therefore, according to the U.S., lacked subject matter jurisdiction. On January 27, 2014, Right to Life amended its complaint to specifically challenge the 2013 Final Rule. Under the new regulation, Right to Life still did not fall within the "religious employer" exception, but did qualify for the accommodation as an "eligible organization." Right to Life challenged this accommodation, arguing that it required them to provide self-certification to their insurance provider setting forth their religious objections to the regulation, which in turn triggerdd an obligation on the part of the insurance provider to procure the services plaintiffs found objectionable. Plaintiffs continued to ask the court to grant a permanent injunction against enforcement of the relevant provisions of the ACA. On February 3, 2014, the court (Judge Robert J. Jonker) ordered that the amended complaint replace the original complaint rendering the Federal Government's motion to dismiss moot.

On February 10, 2014, the Federal Government filed an unopposed motion to stay the proceedings pending the Sixth Circuit's ruling in the consolidated appeals of Catholic Diocese of Nashville and Michigan Catholic Conference. On February 14, 2014, the court (Judge Robert J. Jonker) granted the motion to stay.

The court issued another stay on September 10, 2014 pending proposed federal regulations. The stay was lifted on February 17, 2015. On May 13, 2015 the plaintiffs filed a motion for declaratory judgment and on May 21, 2015 defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss and entered judgement in favor of the plaintiff on October 21, 2015. The court found that the plaintiff’s claims were identical to the other recent cases in the Sixth Circuit in which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiff’s kind of challenge to the accommodations under RFRA. See Michigan Catholic Conference and Catholic Family Services v. Burwell, 807 F.3d 738 (6th Cir. 2015).

This case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Richard Jolly (5/5/2014)

Sean Mulloy (10/22/2017)

Related Cases

Michigan Catholic Conference v. Sebelius, Western District of Michigan (2013)

People


Judge(s)

Jonker, Robert James (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Rizik, Michael B. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Lieber, Sheila M. (District of Columbia)

Miles, Patrick A. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Mizer, Benjamin C. (District of Columbia)

Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia)

Saltman, Julie Shana (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Jonker, Robert James (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Rizik, Michael B. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Lieber, Sheila M. (District of Columbia)

Miles, Patrick A. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Mizer, Benjamin C. (District of Columbia)

Ricketts, Jennifer (District of Columbia)

Saltman, Julie Shana (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Oct. 27, 2015 Docket
1

Verified Complaint

2013 WL 5913362

Nov. 4, 2013 Complaint
15

Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss

Jan. 13, 2014 Pleading / Motion / Brief
17

First Amended Complaint

Jan. 27, 2014 Complaint
19

Plaintiff's Brief Opposing Motion to Dimiss

Jan. 29, 2014 Pleading / Motion / Brief
22

Order (Dismissing Motion as Moot)

Feb. 3, 2014 Order/Opinion
23

Defendant's Unopposed Motion to Stay Proceedings

Feb. 10, 2014 Pleading / Motion / Brief
25

Order Granting Motion to Stay

Feb. 14, 2014 Order/Opinion
45

Defendants' Memorandum In Support of Its Motion to Dismiss or, In the Alternative, For Summary Judgment

Right to Life of Michigan v. Burwell

May 21, 2015 Pleading / Motion / Brief
74

Opinion and Order

Right to Life of Michigan v. Burwell

Oct. 27, 2015 Order/Opinion

Docket

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

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Speech and Religious Freedom

Special Collection(s):

Contraception Insurance Mandate

Key Dates

Filing Date: Nov. 4, 2013

Closing Date: 2015

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Right to Life of Michigan is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, nonprofit organization concerned with protecting the sanctity and dignity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Department of Health and Human Services, Federal

Department of Treasury, Federal

Department of Labor, 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):

Establishment Clause

Free Exercise Clause

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General:

Contraception

Religious programs / policies

Discrimination-basis:

Religion discrimination

Type of Facility:

Government-run