Concise summary of HHS mandate cases

The Becket Fund provides a good summary of legal action against the HHS mandate.  In their summary of cases involving for-profit companies (select the tab “court status”), 12 companies have been granted injunctions and do not have to comply with the HHS mandate while their cases are being appealed.  Five other companies have been denied injunctive relief.  That’s a pretty good scorecard, so far.

Most of the non-profit organizations that have filed are on hold, or have been dismissed for procedural issues.  In these cases, the non-profits are grandfathered or fall under the one-year “safe harbor,” wherein enforcement of the mandate is delayed until August 2013.  The HHS mandate has not affected them yet, and they can show no direct harm from the mandate.  These organizations must wait until the mandate in in effect in their own situation.  

The for-profits can show immediate impact from the HHS mandate, and must be able to show that their exercise of religious liberty is being burdened.  The Obama DOJ is arguing that for-profit companies do not exercise religious freedom.  The DOJ probably will not attempt to argue that the non-profits have no right to exercise religious freedom–it would be pretty tough to argue that the Archdiocese of New York or Grace Seminary does not have religious freedom.  In these cases, the DOJ is relying on the convoluted accommodation proposed by the HHS to argue that these non-profits are not required to directly purchase morally objectionable services for employees and thus are not being forced to violate their faith. 

The appeals court rulings on the for-profit cases are split: four court decisions for plaintiffs and three for defendants.  Therefore, I think that the for-profit cases will end up at the Supreme Court.  We will not start seeing decisions on the non-profit cases until after August 1st, when the one-year “safe harbor” expires and these organizations can begin to show impact.

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