724 F.3d 377 (3rd Cir. 2013), 13-1144, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Secretary of United States Department of Health & Human Services

Docket Nº:13-1144
Citation:724 F.3d 377
Opinion Judge:COWEN, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:CONESTOGA WOOD SPECIALTIES CORPORATION; NORMAN HAHN; NORMAN LEMAR HAHN; ANTHONY H. HAHN; ELIZABETH HAHN; KEVIN HAHN, Appellants v. SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES; SECRETARY UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; SECRETARY UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVI
Attorney:Charles W. Proctor, III, Esq. (Argued), Law Offices of Proctor, Lindsay & Dixon, Chadds Ford, PA; Randall L. Wenger, Esq., Independence Law Center, Harrisburg, PA, Counsel for Appellants. Michelle Renee Bennett, Esq., United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch, W...
Judge Panel:BEFORE: JORDAN, VANASKIE and COWEN, Circuit Judges. JORDAN, Circuit Judge, dissenting. JORDAN, Circuit Judge, dissenting.
Case Date:July 26, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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724 F.3d 377 (3rd Cir. 2013)

CONESTOGA WOOD SPECIALTIES CORPORATION; NORMAN HAHN; NORMAN LEMAR HAHN; ANTHONY H. HAHN; ELIZABETH HAHN; KEVIN HAHN, Appellants

v.

SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES; SECRETARY UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; SECRETARY UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

No. 13-1144

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

July 26, 2013

Argued: May 30, 2013.

Page 378

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (D.C. No. 5-12-cv-06744). District Judge: Honorable Mitchell S. Goldberg.

Charles W. Proctor, III, Esq. (Argued), Law Offices of Proctor, Lindsay & Dixon, Chadds Ford, PA; Randall L. Wenger, Esq., Independence Law Center, Harrisburg, PA, Counsel for Appellants.

Michelle Renee Bennett, Esq., United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch, Washington, DC; Alisa B. Klein, Esq. (Argued), Mark B. Stern, Esq., United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Washington, DC, Counsel for Appellees.

Angela C. Thompson, Esq., Sacramento, CA, Counsel for United States Justice Foundation, Amicus on Behalf of Appellants.

Ayesha N. Khan, Esq., Gregory M. Lipper, Esq., Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Washington, DC, Counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State; Union for Reform Judaism; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Hindu American Foundation; Women of Reform Judaism Amici on Behalf of Appellees.

Travis S. Weber, Esq. , Boyle Litigation, Camp Hill, PA, Counsel for Democrats For Life of America; Bart Stupak, Amici on Behalf of Appellants.

Mailee R. Smith, Esq., Americans United for Life, Washington, DC, Counsel for Association of American Physicians and Surgeons; American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Christian Medical Association; Catholic Medical Association; Physicians for Life; National Catholic Bioethics; National Association of Pro Life Nurses Amici on Behalf of Appellants.

Bruce H. Schneider, Esq., Stroock, Stroock & Lavan, New York, NY, Counsel for American Society for Reproductive Medicine; Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine; American Medical Women's Association; National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health; Society of Family Planning; James Trussell; Susan F. Wood; Don Downing; Kathleen Besinque; American Society for Emergency Contraception; Association of Reproductive Health Professionals; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health Amici on Behalf of Appellees.

Lisa S. Blatt, Esq., Arnold & Porter, Washington, DC, Counsel for Center for Reproductive Rights; American Public Health Association; Guttmacher Institute; National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association; National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; National Womens Health Network; Reproductive Health Technologies Project; R Alta Charo Amici on Behalf of Appellees.

Kimberlee W. Colby, Esq., Christian Legal Society, Center for Law & Religious Freedom, Springfield, VA, Counsel for Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance; C12 Group; Christian Legal Society; Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Association of Christian Schools; Association for Gospel Rescue Missions; National Association of Evangelicals; Patrick Henry College; Prison Fellowship Ministries Amici on Behalf of Appellants.

Sarah Somers, Esq., National Health Law Program, Carrboro, NC, Counsel for Asian Pacific American Legal Center; Black Women's Health Imperative; Campaign to End Aids; Forward Together; Housing Works; Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; National Health Program; National Hispanic Medical Association; National Women and AIDS Collective; Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States; IPAS; HIV Law Project Amici on Behalf of Appellants.

Brendan M. Walsh, Esq., Pashman Stein, Hackensack, NJ, Counsel for Orrin G. Hatch; James M. Inhofe; Daniel R. Coats; Mitch McConnell; Rob Portman; Pat Roberts Amici on Behalf of Appellants.

Deborah J. Dewart, Esq., Swansboro, NC, Counsel for Liberty Life and Law Foundation Amicus on Behalf of Appellants.

Jason P. Gosselin, Esq., Richard M. Haggerty, Jr., Esq., Drinker, Biddle & Reath, Philadelphia, PA, Counsel for New Jersey Family Policy Council Amicus on Behalf of Appellants.

Steven W. Fitschen, Esq., The National Legal Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA, Counsel for National Legal Foundation; Bradley P. Jacob; Texas Center for Defense of Life Amici on Behalf of Appellees.

Charles E. Davidow, Esq., Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Washington, DC, Counsel for National Organization for Women Foundation; National Women's Law Center; Population Connection; Service Employees International Union; Ibis Reproductive Health; MergerWatch; Naral Pro Choice America; Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area Inc.; Planned Parenthood of Central Pennsylvania; Planned Parenthood of Delaware Inc.; Planned Parenthood of Northeast Middle Pennsylvania and Bucks County; Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania; Raising Women's Voices for the Health Care We Need; Women's Law Project; American Association University Women Amici on Behalf of Appellees.

Emily M. Bell, Esq., Clymer, Musser, Brown & Conrad, Lancaster, PA, Counsel for Breast Cancer Prevention Institute Coalition on Abortion Breast Cancer; Polycarp Research Institute; Amici on Behalf of Appellants.

Daniel Mach, Esq., American Civil Liberties Union, Washington, DC, Counsel for American Civil Liberties Union; American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania; Anti Defamation League; Catholics for a Free Choice; Hadassah; Women's Zionist Organization of America Inc. Interfaith Alliance Foundation; National Coalition of American Nuns; National Council of Women Inc. Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Religious Institute; Unitarian Universalist Association; Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation Amici on Behalf of Appellees.

Thomas W. Ude, Esq., Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc., New York, NY, Counsel for Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund Inc. Amicus on Behalf of Appellees.

BEFORE: JORDAN, VANASKIE and COWEN, Circuit Judges. JORDAN, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

OPINION

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COWEN, Circuit Judge.

Appellants Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation (" Conestoga" ), Norman Hahn, Elizabeth Hahn, Norman Lemar Hahn, Anthony Hahn, and Kevin Hahn (collectively, " the Hahns" ) appeal from an order of the District Court denying their motion for a preliminary injunction. In their Complaint, Appellants allege that regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (" HHS" ), which require group health plans and health insurance issuers to provide coverage for contraceptives, violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb (" RFRA" ) and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.1 The District Court denied a preliminary injunction, concluding that Appellants were unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims. See Conestoga Wood Specialities Corp. v. Sebelius, No. 12-CV-6744, 917 F.Supp.2d 394, 2013 WL 140110 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 11, 2013). Appellants then filed an expedited motion for

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a stay pending appeal with this Court, which was denied. See Conestoga Wood Specialities Corp. v. Sec'y of the United States Dep't of Health & Human Servs., No. 13-1144, 2013 WL 1277419 (3d Cir. Feb. 8, 2013). Now, we consider the fully briefed appeal from the District Court's denial of a preliminary injunction.

Before we can even reach the merits of the First Amendment and RFRA claims, we must consider a threshold issue: whether a for-profit, secular corporation is able to engage in religious exercise under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the RFRA. As we conclude that for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise, we will affirm the order of the District Court.

I.

In 2010, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub. L. No. 111-148 (March 23, 2010) (" ACA" ). The ACA requires employers with fifty or more employees to provide their employees with a minimum level of health insurance. The ACA requires non-exempt group plans to provide coverage without cost-sharing for preventative care and screening for women in accordance with guidelines created by the Health Resources and Services Administration (" HRSA" ), a subagency of HHS. See 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4).

The HRSA delegated the creation of guidelines on this issue to the Institute of Medicine (" IOM" ). The IOM recommended that the HRSA adopt guidelines that require non-exempt group plans to cover " [a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for women with reproductive capacity." 2 These recommended guidelines were approved by the HRSA. On February 15, 2012, HHS, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Labor published final rules memorializing the guidelines. See 77 Fed. Reg. 8725 (Feb. 15, 2012).3 Under the regulations, group health plans and health insurance issuers are required to provide coverage consistent with the HRSA guidelines in plan years beginning on or after August 1, 2012, unless the employer or the plan is exempt.4 Appellants refer to this requirement as the " Mandate," and we...

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