United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
ORDER GRANTING PERMANENT INJUNCTION AND DECLARATORY
TIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
consideration of Plaintiffs' Motion for Permanent
Injunction and Declaratory Relief [Doc. No. 91], and
Defendants' response thereto, the Court finds that the
Motion should be granted, as set forth herein.
Reaching Souls International, Inc. and Truett-McConnell
College, Inc. are nonprofit religious organizations that
provide employee health benefits through a group plan
sponsored by Plaintiff GuideStone Financial Resources of the
Southern Baptist Convention (“GuideStone”). The
GuideStone Plan is a “church plan” as defined by
29 U.S.C. § 1002(33), and is available to organizations
controlled by or associated with the Southern Baptist
Convention, which share sincere religious views regarding
abortion and contraception and rely on GuideStone to provide
insurance coverage consistent with those views. By the
Complaint, a prior motion for a preliminary injunction, and
the instant Motion, Plaintiffs seek relief pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 65 from federal regulations implementing the
Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) that require
compliance with ACA's mandate to include contraceptive
services in group health plan coverage as a preventive care
service for women, and provide a means of compliance for
nonexempt organizations that have religious objections to
some contraceptive methods. See 42 U.S.C. §
300gg-13. This mechanism, known as the accommodation, was
codified in 26 C.F.R. § 54.9815-2713A, 29 C.F.R. §
2590.715-2713A, and 45 C.F.R. § 147.131. Defendants are
federal agencies and officials responsible for implementing
these regulations and other recently proposed
December 20, 2013, the Court granted preliminary injunctive
relief and enjoined the enforcement of the accommodation and
the contraceptive mandate as a violation of the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et
seq. (“RFRA”), under Hobby Lobby Stores,
Inc. v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114 (10th Cir. 2103),
aff'd sub nom., Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
Stores, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2751 (2014). See Mem.
Decision & Order [Doc. No. 67] (available at 2013 WL
6804259). At Plaintiffs' request, and without
objection by Defendants, the injunction was made broad enough
to protect a putative class of similarly situated employers,
as defined in the Complaint. See id. at 16; Compl.
[Doc. No. 1], ¶ 18. Defendants appealed, and this case
was stayed by agreement of the parties. See 3/26/14
Order [Doc. No. 79]. After an appellate ruling in
consolidated appeals, Little Sisters of the Poor v.
Burwell, 794 F.3d 1151 (10th Cir. 2015), a grant of
certiorari by the Supreme Court that resulted in an order
vacating the decision and remanding the case for further
proceedings, Zubick v. Burwell, 136 S.Ct. 1557
(2016), and a change of administrations, the Tenth Circuit on
October 23, 2017, granted Defendants' motion for
voluntarily dismissal of the appeal. The case is once again
pending in this Court.
consideration of Plaintiff's current Motion in light of
the existing case record, the Court finds that a permanent
injunction under Rule 65(d) and declaratory relief under 28
U.S.C. § 2201 are warranted, and states the following
findings and conclusions:
1) Plaintiffs have demonstrated, and Defendants concede, that
the promulgation and enforcement of the contraceptive mandate
against Plaintiffs, either through the accommodation or other
regulatory means that require Plaintiffs to facilitate the
provision of coverage for contraceptive services to which
they hold sincere religious objections, violated and would
2) Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm as a direct result
of Defendants' conduct unless Defendants are enjoined
from further interfering with Plaintiffs' practice of
their religious beliefs.
3) The threatened injury to Plaintiffs outweighs any injury
to Defendants resulting from this injunction.
4) The public interest in the vindication of religious
freedom favors the entry of an injunction.
THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion for Permanent
Injunction and Declaratory Relief [Doc. No. 91] is GRANTED.
FURTHER ORDERED that the Court issues the following PERMANENT
their agents, officers, employees, and all successors in
office are enjoined and restrained from any effort to apply
or enforce the substantive requirements of 42 U.S.C. §
300gg-13(a)(4) and any implementing regulations as those
requirements relate to the provision of contraceptive drugs,
devices, or procedures and related education and counseling
to which Plaintiffs have sincerely-held religious objections,
and are enjoined and restrained from pursuing, charging, or
assessing penalties, fines, assessments, or other enforcement
actions for noncompliance related thereto, including those in
26 U.S.C. §§ 4980D and 4980H, and 29 U.S.C.
§§ 1132 and 1185d, and including, but not limited
to, penalties for failure to offer or facilitate access to
religiously-objectionable contraceptive drugs, devices, or
procedures, and related education and counseling, against
Reaching Souls International, Inc., Truett-McConnell College,
Inc., GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention, all current and future participating employers in
the GuideStone Plan, and any-third party administrators
acting on behalf of these entities with respect to the
GuideStone Plan. Defendants remain free to enforce 26 U.S.C.
§ 4980H for any purpose other than to require
Plaintiffs, other employers participating in the GuideStone
Plan, and third-party administrators acting on their behalf,
to provide or facilitate the provision of contraceptive
coverage, or to punish them for failing to do so.