Compasscare v. Cuomo, 1:19-CV-1409 (TJM/DJS)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
Writing for the CourtThomas J. McAvoy, Sr. U.S. District Judge
Citation465 F.Supp.3d 122
Parties COMPASSCARE, a New York nonprofit corporation, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, d/b/a NIFLA, a Virginia Corporation, First Bible Baptist Church, a New York nonprofit corporation, Plaintiffs, v. Andrew M. CUOMO, in his official capacity as the Governor of the State of New York; Roberta Reardon, in her official capacity as Commissioner of the Labor Department of the State of New York, and Letitia James, in her official capacity as Attorney General of the State of New York, Defendants.
Decision Date05 June 2020
Docket Number1:19-CV-1409 (TJM/DJS)

465 F.Supp.3d 122

COMPASSCARE, a New York nonprofit corporation, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, d/b/a NIFLA, a Virginia Corporation, First Bible Baptist Church, a New York nonprofit corporation, Plaintiffs,
v.
Andrew M. CUOMO, in his official capacity as the Governor of the State of New York; Roberta Reardon, in her official capacity as Commissioner of the Labor Department of the State of New York, and Letitia James, in her official capacity as Attorney General of the State of New York, Defendants.

1:19-CV-1409 (TJM/DJS)

United States District Court, N.D. New York.

Signed June 5, 2020


465 F.Supp.3d 133

David A. Cortman, Alliance Defending Freedom, Lawrenceville, GA, James P. Trainor, Cutler, Trainor Law Firm, Malta, NY, Kenneth Connelly, Kevin Theriot, Alliance Defending Freedom, Scottsdale, AZ, for Plaintiffs.

Adrienne J. Kerwin, Office of Attorney General, Albany, NY, for Defendants.

DECISION & ORDER

Thomas J. McAvoy, Sr. U.S. District Judge

Plaintiffs, religious organizations opposed to abortion, seek a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of a labor law promulgated by the State of New York. See dkt. # 17. Plaintiffs contend that the law, which purports to prevent employer discrimination against women because of their reproductive health care choices, is actually aimed at undermining their ability to carry out their anti-abortion mission and violate their First Amendment rights. Defendants, New York State officials, oppose the request for a preliminary injunction and have filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim. See dkt. # 19. The parties have briefed the issues and the Court has determined to decide the motion without oral argument.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts Alleged in the Complaint

Plaintiffs describe this case as a "pre-enforcement federal civil rights action[.]" Complaint ("Complt."), dkt. # 1, at ¶ 1. They raise their claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs seek to enjoin enforcement of the "Boss Bill," which they describe as "the third in a trio of abortion-protective and abortion-advancing laws passed by the New York State Legislature on January 22, 2019." Id. at ¶ 2.1 The first two laws addressed when in the gestational period abortions could be performed and the second addressed the cost of contraceptives and other family planning drugs in health plans. Id.

i. The Plaintiffs

a. CompassCare

Plaintiff CompassCare Pregnancy Services ("CompassCare") is a religious non-profit incorporated under New York law, with a principal place of business in Rochester, New York. Id. at ¶ 40. CompassCare "provides pregnancy-related medical and

465 F.Supp.3d 134

non-medical services and comprehensive pregnancy- and abortion-related information without cost to its patients[.]" Id. at ¶ 41. CompassCare has both a president and a medical director. Id. As a "pregnancy care center," CompassCare "exists to serve women considering abortion and their unborn children." Id. at ¶ 55. CompassCare aims "to provide the compassion, concern, and support necessary to enable women to carry their unborn children to term." Id. CompassCare does not seek to earn a profit, does not charge for its aid, and does not discriminate because of "age, sex, marital status, or religious preference." Id. at ¶ 56. CompassCare operates without funding from the government. Id. at ¶ 57. CompassCare provides a number of services, including "clinical pregnancy testing ...; ultrasound exams; gestational age determinations; complete pregnancy, abortion, and adoption options consultations; STD testing and treatment; abortion pill reversal services; and medical, insurance, and community support referrals." Id. at ¶ 58. Plaintiff also offers "accurate and complete comprehensive information concerning prenatal development, pregnancy and childbirth, abortion procedures and risks, and alternatives to abortion." Id. at ¶ 59. Beyond this "rigorous and consistent treatment and testing protocol," CompassCare also offers "informational resources" on "pregancy, abortion, post-abortion care and expectations, contraception, and STDs." Id. at ¶ 60.

Plaintiffs further describe the aim of CompassCare's programs and the beliefs that underlie those aims. CompassCare, they say, "is committed to meeting a woman's need at the point of decision regarding an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy." Id. at ¶ 62. By providing "emotional support and practical assistance," Plaintiff "provides women with the knowledge and ability to face the future with hope, and to plan constructively for themselves and their babies." Id. at ¶ 63. CompassCare "believes all human life is equally valuable and deserving of blessing and protection, from fertilization to natural death." Id. at ¶ 64. To Compass Care, "every abortion claims an innocent life." Id. at ¶ 65. Since "every life is inherently valuable" as "a gift from God and made in His image," Plaintiff "believes that such life should not be destroyed. Id. at ¶ 65. Rather than solving women's problems, CompassCare alleges "that abortion compounds actual and perceived problems and difficulties[.]" Id. at ¶ 67. CompassCare sees "the purpose of medical care [as] to heal and maintain the health of the individual[.]" Id. at ¶ 68. Abortion, CompassCare claims, "does neither for either women or the baby." Id. CompassCare does not, therefore, "recommend, provide, or refer for abortions or abortifacient drugs or devices." Id. at ¶ 69. Plaintiff finds "it immoral for anyone to participate in those services." Id. Instead, CompassCare finds adoption "an excellent alternative" and offers "referrals to adoption agencies and attorneys for those who want such assistance." Id. at ¶ 70.

CompassCare also has specific beliefs related to sexuality and birth control. Plaintiff "believes that popular ... acceptance of a birth control mentality violates the purpose of sexuality as revealed in the Bible." Id. at ¶ 71. That acceptance "results in an increase in adolescent promiscuity, pregnancy, abortion, and disease." Id. at ¶ 71. CompassCare therefore "works to teach young adults that sex can only be meaningful and safe within the context of a loving, permanent marital relationship between one man and one woman." Id. at ¶ 72. CompassCare provides information on birth control, offering a distinction between contraceptives and "abortifacient drugs and devices on the other." Id. While CompassCare provides information on contraceptives, the Plaintiff does not "refer patients for birth control in any form." Id. at ¶ 73. CompassCare also promotes abstinence

465 F.Supp.3d 135

among single people and "sexual fidelity within a marital relationship." Id. at ¶ 74. Such marriages, CompassCare states, are "between one man and one woman." Id.

Plaintiff CompassCare further alleges that its "Christian faith and religious beliefs motivate and permeate its mission and all its activities" Id. at ¶ 75. CompassCare considers "itself as an outreach ministry of Jesus Christ through His church." Id. "During every interaction with a patient," Plaintiff contends, "CompassCare staff offer to share the Gospel message of God's love and hope to those who wish to agree to hear it." Id. at ¶ 76. Staff only share that gospel message with people who agree to hear it. Id. CompassCare's mission statement describes the Plaintiff as "a Christ-centered agency dedicated to empowering women and men to erase the need for abortion by transforming a woman's fear into confidence." Id. at ¶ 77. God's desire, CompassCare believes, is "to use [CompassCare] to transform the communities it serves in western New York into a place where abortion is no longer needed and wanted." Id. at ¶ 78. To achieve that end, CompassCare seeks to aid both "at-risk women," and also to assist other "pregnancy care centers" in doing the same. Id.

Plaintiff contends that "CompassCare is a religious organization that provides its services ... pursuant to its pro-life and religious viewpoint[.]" Id. at ¶ 80. It hopes "to empower the women it serves to say ‘no’ to abortion." Id. To meet this "religious and pro-life mission," the Plaintiff "requires all who serve the organization–whether staff, board members, or volunteers–to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior." Id. at ¶ 81. Further, "[a]ll who work at CompassCare must support CompassCare's religious mission, and must personally conduct themselves consistent with the Christian faith and belief that guides that mission." Id. at ¶ 82. Thus, "all who serve the organization in any capacity" must "believe in and agree to abide by its positional statements on abortion, birth control, religious faith, and organizational principles." Id. at ¶ 83. Those views are found in an employee handbook. Id. at ¶ 84. All persons "serv[ing] the organization" must sign the handbook. Id. Employees are not only required to agree to "such statements" when they begin their work, but must also "uphold them, unwaveringly, throughout their tenure with the organization." Id. at ¶ 85.

The CompassCare "positional statements" mandate that "all those who serve the organization" must "agree that the Bible is the inspired–and the only–infallible, authoritative Word of...

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3 practice notes
  • W.D. v. Rockland Cnty., 19 Civ. 2066 (JCM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 22, 2021
    ...belief or affiliation," to protect consumers who purchased kosher foods for religious or secular purposes); CompassCare v. Cuomo , 465 F. Supp. 3d 122, 154 (N.D.N.Y. 2020) (finding that statute was not underinclusive because it "applie[d] both to religious and non-religious employers on the......
  • W.D. v. Rockland Cnty., 19 Civ. 2066 (JCM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 22, 2021
    ...belief or affiliation," to protect consumers who purchased kosher foods for religious or secular purposes); CompassCare v. Cuomo, 465 F. Supp. 3d 122, 154 (N.D.N.Y. 2020) (finding that statute was not underinclusive because it "applie[d] both to religious and non-religious employers on the ......
  • United States v. Hossain, 1:04-cr-402 (TJM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • June 8, 2020
    ...is unlikely to engage in any behavior that would jeopardize the safety of the community in which he resides. Finally, Defendant's age 465 F.Supp.3d 122 and physical difficulties make him less dangerous to others and to the community than a younger, healthier man would be.The Court will ther......
3 cases
  • W.D. v. Rockland Cnty., 19 Civ. 2066 (JCM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 22, 2021
    ...belief or affiliation," to protect consumers who purchased kosher foods for religious or secular purposes); CompassCare v. Cuomo , 465 F. Supp. 3d 122, 154 (N.D.N.Y. 2020) (finding that statute was not underinclusive because it "applie[d] both to religious and non-religious employers on the......
  • W.D. v. Rockland Cnty., 19 Civ. 2066 (JCM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 22, 2021
    ...belief or affiliation," to protect consumers who purchased kosher foods for religious or secular purposes); CompassCare v. Cuomo, 465 F. Supp. 3d 122, 154 (N.D.N.Y. 2020) (finding that statute was not underinclusive because it "applie[d] both to religious and non-religious employers on the ......
  • United States v. Hossain, 1:04-cr-402 (TJM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • June 8, 2020
    ...is unlikely to engage in any behavior that would jeopardize the safety of the community in which he resides. Finally, Defendant's age 465 F.Supp.3d 122 and physical difficulties make him less dangerous to others and to the community than a younger, healthier man would be.The Court will ther......

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