Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec'y of the U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs.

Decision Date26 July 2013
Docket NumberNo. 13–1144.,13–1144.
Citation724 F.3d 377
PartiesCONESTOGA 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.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

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

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

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

Ayesha N. Khan, Esq., Gregory M. Lipper, Esq., Washington, DC, 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, for Democrats For Life of America; Bart Stupak Amici on Behalf of Appellants.

Mailee R. Smith, Esq., Washington, DC, 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, 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, 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 Women's 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, for New Jersey Family Policy Council Amicus on Behalf of Appellants.

Steven W. Fitschen, Esq., The National Legal Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA, 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, 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, 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, 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, for Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund Inc. Amicus on Behalf of Appellees.

Before: JORDAN, VANASKIE and COWEN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

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 Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, 917 F.Supp.2d 394 (E.D.Pa.2013). Appellants then filed an expedited motion for a stay pending appeal with this Court, which was denied. See Conestoga Wood Specialties 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. See42 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. See77 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 use this term throughout this opinion. Employers who fail to comply with the Mandate face a penalty of $100 per day per offending employee. See26 U.S.C. § 4980D. The Department of Labor and plan participants may also bring a suit against an employer that fails to comply with the Mandate. See29 U.S.C. § 1132.

II.

The Hahns own 100 percent of the voting shares of Conestoga. Conestoga is a Pennsylvania for-profit corporation that manufactures wood cabinets and has 950 employees. The Hahns practice the Mennonite religion. According to their Amended Complaint, the Mennonite Church “teaches that taking of life which includes anything that terminates a fertilized embryo is intrinsic evil and a sin against God to which they are held accountable.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 30.) 5 Specifically, the Hahns object to two drugs that must be provided by group health plans under the Mandate that “may cause the demise of an already conceived but not yet attached human embryo.” ( Id. at ¶ 45.) These are “emergency...

To continue reading

Request your trial
67 cases
  • LTL Mgmt., LLC v. Those Parties Listed on Appendix a to Complaint (In re LTL Mgmt., LLC)
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of New Jersey
    • February 25, 2022
    ...that he or she will succeed, and need not prove same with certainty. See Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec'y of U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. , 724 F.3d 377 (3d Cir. 2013) (Jordan, J., dissenting) rev'd and remanded sub nom. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. , 573 U.S. 682, 13......
  • Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter & Paul Home v. Pennsylvania
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • July 8, 2020
    ...Gilardi v. United States Dept. of Health and Human Servs. , 733 F.3d 1208 (CADC 2013) ; Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Secretary of U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Servs. , 724 F.3d 377 (CA3 2013) ; Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius , 730 F.3d 618 (CA6 2013). This Court granted certiorari in t......
  • LTL Mgmt., LLC v. State ex rel. Balderas (In re LTL Mgmt., LLC)
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of New Jersey
    • October 4, 2022
    ...that he or she will succeed, and need not prove same with certainty. See Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec'y of U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. , 724 F.3d 377 (3d Cir. 2013) (Jordan, J., dissenting) rev'd and remanded sub nom. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. , 573 U.S. 682, 13......
  • LTL Mgmt. v. New Mexico, ex rel. Balderas (In re LTL Mgmt.)
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of New Jersey
    • October 4, 2022
    ... ... the known catastrophic health consequences associated with ... the use of ... See, e.g. , Lockyer v. Mirant ... Corp. , 398 F.3d 1098, 1100 (9th Cir. 2005) (holding ... prove same with certainty. See Conestoga Wood Specialties ... Corp. v. Sec'y of U.S. Dep't of Health &Human ... Servs. , 724 F.3d 377 (3d Cir. 2013) ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
  • Supreme Court Docket Report - October 26, 2013
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • November 27, 2013
    ...A divided panel held that "for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise" under the Free Exercise Clause and RFRA. 724 F.3d 377, 381 (3d Cir. 2013). The court reasoned that there is no history of the Free Exercise Clause protecting the rights of for-profit corporation......
8 books & journal articles
  • Religious Exemptions
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law No. XXIV-2, January 2023
    • January 1, 2023
    ...Inc. v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114 (10th Cir. 2013) and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec’y of U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., 724 F.3d 377 (3d Cir. 2013), were consolidated into Hobby Lobby after the grant of certiorari. Both corporations raised the same objection. 2023] RELIGIOUS ......
  • A Compelling Interest? Using Old Conceptions of Public Health Law to Challenge the Affordable Care Act's Contraceptive Mandate
    • United States
    • Georgia State University College of Law Georgia State Law Reviews No. 31-3, March 2015
    • Invalid date
    ...See, e.g., Hobby Lobby Stores, 723 F.3d 1114; Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec'y of U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs, 724 F.3d 377 (3rd Cir. 2013), rev'd, Burwell; Korte v. Sebelius, 735 F.3d 654, 655 (7th Cir. 2013); HHS Mandate Information Central, http://www.becketfund.org/hhsin......
  • Freedom of expressive association and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law No. XXIV-2, January 2023
    • January 1, 2023
    ...v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114, 1122 (10th Cir. 2013); Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec’y of the U.S. Dep’t of Health & Hum. Servs., 724 F.3d 377, 381 (3d Cir. 2013). 54. Hobby Lobby Stores , 573 U.S. at 701–03. 55. Id. at 701–04. 56. William T. Allen, Our Schizophrenic Conception of the......
  • Religious Exemptions
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law No. XXII-2, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...Inc. v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114 (10th Cir. 2013) and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec’y of U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., 724 F.3d 377 (3d Cir. 2013), were consolidated into Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. after the grant of certiorari. Both corporations raised the same obj......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT