A Law.com/National Law Journal article Tuesday morning related the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ dismissing a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers provide insurance that covers contraception, including the morning-after pill, sterilization and reproductive counseling services -- deepening a circuit split over religious challenges to that requirement. The case was that of Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius, 12-2673.
In so doing, the 6th. Circuit affirmed Western District of Michigan Judge Robert Jonker’s December 2012 denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law, also instructing dismissal of individual claims brought by the Kennedy family, which owns the closely held automotive manufacturer Autocam and related medical manufacturer Autocam Medical, holding “that it is the companies—not the family, described in the opinion as devoutly Roman Catholic—that must comply with the law. Autocam itself is not a “person” capable of “religious exercise” as intended by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
Law.com profiled the circuit splits back in July, with the Sixth Circuit Tuesday noting “Our sister circuits that have considered whether for-profit corporations may be exempted from compliance with the mandate under RFRA have split on the proper answer to the question with the footnote to compare Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, --- F.3d ----, 2013 WL 3216103 (10th Cir. June 27, 2013 (holding that plaintiffs demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their RFRA claims and remanding for consideration of the remaining preliminary injunction factors by the district court) with Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec’y of U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., --- F.3d ----, 2013WL 3845365 (3rd Cir. July 26, 2013) (affirming district court’s judgment denying a preliminary injunction on both Free Exercise Clause and RFRA grounds).”
Subsequent to the Sixth Circuit’s decision, the District Court issued an order to the effect in pertinence that since “the Court of Appeals affirmed this Court's decision on grounds that would seem to require immediate dismissal of the claims of the individual plaintiffs in this case on standing grounds, and to provide a basis for granting the defendants' pending Motion to Dismiss all of the remaining counts in this case asserted by the corporate plaintiff. The Court recognizes that plaintiffs may choose to seek en banc review, but in light of the likelihood of eventual Supreme Court consideration of this case, or another case like it, the Court sees little reason to delay entry of final judgment in this case when the Court of Appeals has already ruled on grounds that would appear to resolve the merits of the case. The parties may show cause not later than Sept. 27, 2013, why the Court should not implement the decision of the Court of Appeals by dismissing the claims of the individual plaintiffs in this case for lack of standing, and by granting the defendants' Motion to Dismiss all remaining claims asserted by the corporate plaintiff.” (“Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss”)