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7th Circuit grants injunction in company’s suit against providing employees contraceptives

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Finding a case out of Madison, Ind., to be nearly identical to one out of Southern Illinois challenging the federal mandate that employers must provide contraceptives to employees despite religious objections, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction Wednesday.

The appellate court issued its order in William D. Grote III, et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, 13-1077, overturning Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s refusal to grant the Grote family’s request for a preliminary injunction pending appeal against the enforcement of provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations that require Grote Industries to provide contraception and sterilization procedures in its group health insurance plan.

The Grotes object to providing this coverage for their employees through their self-insured plan because it conflicts with the family’s Catholic beliefs. In their lawsuit, they assert claims under the First Amendment and Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, as well as claims alleging violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the mandate, the company had to begin providing coverage Jan. 1.

The day after Barker denied the Grotes’ motion, the 7th Circuit issued a preliminary injunction in Korte v. Sebelius, 12-3841, pending appeal. The Kortes also sued claiming the mandate violates the RFRA. The 7th Circuit found the Kortes established a reasonable likelihood of success on their RFRA claim and the harm to the Kortes’ religious liberty rights outweighed the temporary harm to the government’s interest of providing greater access to health care.

Judges Joel Flaum and and Diane Sykes found no material distinction between the cases and consolidated them for appeal.  

Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner dissented, believing the appellants haven’t shown they are reasonably likely to prevail on the merits of their claims and expanded on the doubts she expressed in Korte.

 

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