Federal Court of Appeals Holds That Affordable Care Acts (ACA) Contraception Mandate Is Unconstitutional

November 7, 2013 at 9:03 am | Posted in Affordable Care Act, Federal Appeals Court | Leave a comment

In Gilardi v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled 2-1 in favor of business owners who were challenging the ACA requirement that their business provide its employees with health insurance that covers birth control. The underlying case concerned two Catholic brothers, Francis and Philip Gilardi, who own a 400-person produce company based in Ohio.  The brothers oppose contraception as part of their religion and challenged the ACA provision requiring them to provide insurance that covers their employees’ birth control which created exposure to a multi million dollar fine.

The D. C. circuit Court of Appeals ruled, among other things, that requiring companies to cover their employees’ contraception is unduly burdensome for business owners who oppose birth control on religious grounds, even if they are not purchasing the contraception directly:

The burden on religious exercise does not occur at the point of contraceptive purchase; instead, it occurs when a company’s owners fill the basket of goods and services that constitute a healthcare plan.”

In light of a split of reasoning among the federal circuit court of appeals on this issue, there is a significant likelihood that the matter will be taken up by and heard by the United States Supreme Court in the next 12 to 18 months.

A copy of the Court’s opinion is here: 13-5069 – US Court of Appeals

The Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act: Is Round Two on the Horizon?

August 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Affordable Care Act, Federal Appeals Court, Health Care, Medical, PPACA | Leave a comment
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In Contestoga v. Sebelious, HHS, the plaintiffs – practicing Mennonites who own a private business employing 900 people – have announced they will appeal a recent loss before a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The plaintiffs had claimed that the contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which requires the inclusion of birth control in employees’ healthcare plans, created a significant burden on their religious beliefs. The 3rd Circuit ruled that the ACA contraception requirement applies to corporations and not to the people who own them. Consequently, the owners could not sue based on their personal religious objections to birth control.

In the interim, the corporation is providing contraception coverage because it could not afford the potential penalty exposure: $95,000.

Federal Court Rules Against Challenge to Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Mandate: Possible Appeal to the Supreme Court

July 29, 2013 at 10:19 am | Posted in Affordable Care Act, Federal Appeals Court, Federal Laws, Health Care, Medical | Leave a comment
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As reported by Health Watch on July 26, 2013

A federal appeals court said Friday that the owners of a private company could not challenge the contraception mandate in President Obama’s healthcare law. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said the owners of Conestoga, a cabinet-making company, could not challenge the mandate because of their personal religious beliefs.

The decision conflicts with another federal appeals court’s ruling, which increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court will eventually hear the issue.

The birth control requirement applies to companies, not the company’s owners, the 3rd Circuit said Friday. The Hahn family, which owns Conestoga, sued to block the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, saying it violated their religious beliefs. But the 3rd Circuit said the owners and their company are distinct entities.

“The Mandate does not impose any requirements on the Hahns,” the court wrote. “Rather, compliance is placed squarely on Conestoga. If Conestoga fails to comply with the Mandate, the penalties … would be brought against Conestoga, not the Hahns.”

Federal Appeals Court Declares Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional, Same Sex Marriage Approved in Three States

November 8, 2012 at 10:18 am | Posted in Federal Appeals Court | Leave a comment
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Defense of Marriage Act

The Second Circuit Federal Court of Appeals recently found that the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) was unconstitutional. Specifically, the Court on a 2-1 split, held that Section 3 of DOMA violated the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution since it defined marriage as only being between one man and one woman. By recognizing gay and lesbian couples as a “special class”, the law warranted “heightened scrutiny” upon review which ultimately led the Court to find the federal government’s definition of marriage was not related to a substantial federal interest. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals joined the first Circuit Court of Appeals which reached an identical conclusion last year. Legal scholars expect that the matter will likely reach the United Supreme Court for a final ruling on DOMA’s constitutionality in the next two years.

Even though two federal courts of appeal have now found DOMA unconstitutional, DOMA is still the law of the land until the Supreme Court finds that it is unconstitutional or Congress amends the legislation.

Maryland, Maine, and Washington

On November 6th, Maryland (52% -48%); Maine (53%-47%) and Washington (52% -48%) all approved ballot measures that legalized gay marriage in their states.

Minnesota

The state of Minnesota, which currently has a statute prohibiting same sex marriage, defeated a ballot initiative that would have elevated the statutory prohibition to a state constitutional amendment that precluded same sex marriage.

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