Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sec'y U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., No. 13-1144 (3d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Conestoga and individuals who own 100 percent of the voting shares of Conestoga and who practice the Mennonite religion, alleged that regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services, which require group health plans and health insurance issuers to provide coverage for contraceptives, violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb (RFRA) and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The Mennonite Church teaches that taking of life, including anything that terminates a fertilized embryo, is intrinsic evil and a sin against God to which they are held accountable. Plaintiffs specifically object to two “morning after” drugs that must be provided under the mandate that may cause the demise of an already conceived, unattached embryo. The District Court denied a preliminary injunction. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that a for-profit, secular corporation cannot to engage in religious exercise under the Free Exercise Clause and RFRA. Nor do the owners have viable claims; the law does not impose any requirements on them. Compliance and penalties are placed squarely on Conestoga.
The court issued a Revised version of this opinion on August 5, 2014.