The US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website], on Thursday, granted a preliminary injunction to block the Trump Administration’s policy allowing employers with religious or moral objections to deny women insurance coverage for contraceptives.
In issuing the court’s order, US District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. [official profile] ruled that defendants, the Department of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services, failed to pursue a necessary notice and comment process before implementing the new policy, denying citizens “the opportunity to comment and be heard, prior to the effective date of the interim final rule.” Failing to permit notice and comment likely violates the Administrative Procedure Act [text].
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) [official website] requires all employers to cover birth control for their workers without any co-payment, but the provision has been subject to numerous lawsuits. The Trump administration’s new rule considered a number of factors including the interest in protecting the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment [materials] and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) [materials].
In his 29 page ruling, Gilliam continued that the proposed rule would, “transform contraceptive coverage from a legal entitlement to an essentially gratuitous benefit wholly subject to their employer’s discretion.”
The court’s order marked the second time in six days that a federal judge has ruled in favor of a state that challenged the administration’s new policy. A federal judge in Pennsylvania issued the first ruling last Friday and the Justice Department has yet to appeal.
The California case was joined by New York, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.