Do you ever see an actor in a movie and wonder, “Where are they now?”
Sometimes, it seems that they just disappeared from the spotlight and drifted off into obscurity.
Four years of litigation and policy change surrounding the Obamacare contraceptive mandate have seemed to have a similar effect, begging the question: Where is that litigation now?
Here’s some background.
The Obama Administration mandated in 2012 that many employers – with the exception of churches – were required to provide abortion pills and contraceptives in their healthcare plans, regardless of their religious or pro-life beliefs. If these employers refused, they faced crippling IRS fines.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has represented a number of organizations against this mandate, including 20 organizations and 12 individuals whose challenges are still pending.
When the Supreme Court decided not to issue a definitive ruling on this problem in Zubik v. Burwell, it asked that the parties attempt to come to an approach to the mandate that balances both religious exercise and full and equal health coverage.That did not occur prior to the changeover in administrations.
In October 2017, the Trump Administration released interim final rules that expanded the exemption to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. These new exemptions were designed to provide relief to the many religious and pro-life organizations that object to covering abortifacients or contraceptives in their health plans.
The Trump Administration’s interim final rules were an attempt to comply with the task given it by the Supreme Court. The rules ensured that organizations with religious and moral objections were able to conduct their affairs in accord with their beliefs, but maintained the contraceptive mandate for those employers without objections.
Problem solved, right? Well, not exactly, as the organizations that received this relief are still in court.
Actually, to say they’re still in court is a bit of an understatement.
So, where are these cases now?
The majority of the original cases that ADF filed representing non-profit organizations who object to the contraceptive mandate are still being resolved in federal district courts and courts of appeals. This includes various Christian universities and secular pro-life organizations like March for Life.
On top of that, several of these organizations are now intervening in the new round of litigation that came about as the ACLU and the state governments of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, and Washington filed suits against the new exemptions in courts around the country.
District courts in Pennsylvania and California have both ruled against the Trump Administration’s interim final rules, temporarily blocking them from going into effect. We expect that the federal government will appeal these rulings to the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third and Ninth Circuits, respectively.
But pro-life and religious organizations are not backing down.
March for Life and Dordt College together filed a motion to intervene in Massachusetts, so that they can defend their right not to be forced by the government to pay for abortion pills and contraceptives against their beliefs. Unfortunately, they were denied intervention in Massachusetts. But, thankfully, March for Life was permitted to intervene in the California case.
ADF is also actively considering whether to file motions to intervene on behalf of other Christian universities and religious and secular pro-life organizations in the near future.
No one should be forced, especially by the government, to violate their religious beliefs.
Alliance Defending Freedom will continue to fight for the right of these religious and pro-life organizations to operate consistently with their beliefs. You can follow what is happening in these cases by signing up for our newsletter.