Satanic Temple appeals dismissal of RFRA challenge to Indiana abortion law

  • Print
IL file photo

The Satanic Temple is headed back to court as it appeals the dismissal of its challenge to Indiana’s abortion ban.

The Satanic Temple on Nov. 22 filed its notice of appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in The Satanic Temple, Inc. v. Todd Rokita, et al., 23-3247.

The case, initially filed in September 2022, alleges Indiana’s then-new abortion ban, known as Senate Enrolled Act 1, violates the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The group also alleges the law violates the Fifth Amendment, 14th Amendment and 13th Amendment.

SEA 1 prohibits abortion in Indiana except in limited cases of rape or incest, fatal fetal anomaly, or to protect the life or health of the pregnant woman. The law also eliminates licensed abortion clinics in the state and instead requires legal abortion procedures to be carried out in a hospital or ambulatory outpatient surgical care.

In an amended complaint filed in March, the temple argued SEA 1 interferes with its members’ ability to perform the Satanic Abortion Ritual.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, both named as defendants in their officials capacities, moved to dismiss the complaint, and Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted that motion in October.

Magnus-Stinson wrote in her order that the group failed to prove the facts necessary to support associational standing by not identifying members.

“The Satanic Temple had an opportunity to submit evidence. It had notice of its standing defects. And it was given the opportunity to cure them. It has failed on all fronts,” the order stated. “Ultimately, the Satanic Temple has failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence those facts essential for granting standing.”

James MacNaughton, the attorney for the Satanic Temple, said the appeal will focus on the standing issue.

“I think the Southern District got it wrong,” MacNaughton said.

Indiana Lawyer has also reached out to the Office of the Attorney General for comment.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeals of Indiana is preparing to hear oral arguments next week in another RFRA challenge to the state’s abortion law.

The case — Individual Members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, et al. v. Anonymous Plaintiff 1, et al., 22A-PL-2938 and 23A-PL-1313 — is scheduled to be argued at 10 a.m. Dec. 6 in the Supreme Court Courtroom in the Indiana Statehouse.

The plaintiffs in the case are arguing SEA 1 violates their rights under RFRA, and they obtained an injunction against the law in Marion Superior Court.

On appeal, the defendants are arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs’ claims because the plaintiffs lack standing, or their claims aren’t ripe for adjudication. They also claim the plaintiffs were not entitled to injunctive relief.

The Marion Superior Court case has also been granted class certification, and that issue has been consolidated with the overarching RFRA appeal.

And in Monroe Circuit Court, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed an amended complaint against SEA 1 on Indiana constitutional grounds in Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Inc., et al. v. Members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, in their official capacities, et al., 53C06-2208-PL-001756.

A three-day bench trial in the Monroe County case is scheduled to begin on May 29, 2024.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}