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Baldwin v. Sebelius

August 27, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge


Pending before the Court are Defendants' motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted and Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction is denied.


Plaintiffs Steve Baldwin and the Pacific Justice Institute have filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief based upon their challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (Mar. 23, 2010), as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, Pub.L. No. 111-152, 124 Stat. 1029 (Mar. 30, 2010) (collectively the "Act"). Plaintiff Baldwin is a former member of the California Assembly and is a "devout and practicing Christian." (Compl. ¶¶ 15, 17.) Plaintiff Pacific Justice Institute is an education and legal defense organization which primarily represents Christians and Christian organizations. (Id. at ¶¶ 29-30.) Pacific Justice Institute is an employer and it provides health insurance to its employees. (Id. at ¶ 27.) Defendants are the United States Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") and Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of the HHS, the Department of Labor ("DOL") and Hilda Solis as Secretary of the DOL, and the Department of the Treasury ("DOT") and Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the DOT.

The Act was signed into law in March 2010, following lengthy public debate and discussion regarding the issue of health care reform. One of the key provisions challenged by Plaintiffs is a requirement that, beginning in 2014, individuals, with certain exceptions, must maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage or pay a penalty. Pub. L. No. 111-148 §§ 1501, 10106, amended by Pub. L. No. 111-152 § 1002. The Act also requires employers of a certain size to provide health insurance for their employees or pay a penalty. See Pub. L. No. 111-148 § 1513. Plaintiffs object to being compelled to comply with these provisions of the Act. (Compl. ¶¶ 20, 47-49.)

Plaintiffs allege the Act is unconstitutional because Congress lacks authority under the Commerce Clause to require individuals and employers to purchase health insurance. Plaintiffs also allege Congress acted outside the scope of its enumerated powers in passing the Act, the penalty imposed for failure to purchase health insurance is a direct tax that was not apportioned among the states according to census data, and the revenue raising provisions of the Act did not originate in the House of Representatives. Baldwin further alleges the individual mandate of the Act violates his right to privacy and his physician-patient privilege.

In addition to the individual mandate and employer responsibility provisions, Plaintiffs challenge several other aspects of the Act. For example, Plaintiffs allege Secretary Sebelius failed to comply with Section 1552 of the Act, which required her, within 30 days after enactment of the Act, to "publish on the Internet website of the Department of Health and Human Services, a list of all of the authorities provided to the Secretary under this Act (and the amendments made by this Act)." Pub. L. No. 111-148 § 1552. Plaintiff Baldwin also raises a claim for violation of the Equal Protection clause. Specifically, Baldwin alleges he has health issues related to his prostate and desires increased research in men's health, including in the areas of prostate health and prostate cancer. (Compl. ¶ 16.)

Baldwin contends the Act is discriminatory because it creates several Offices of Women's Health, with unlimited monetary appropriations, without corresponding Offices of Men's Health. (Comp. ¶¶ 161-168.)

Finally, Plaintiffs are concerned that public funds will be used for abortion. Following enactment of the Act, the President of the United States signed an executive order "to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services." Exec. Order No. 13,535, 75 Fed. Reg. 15,599 (Mar. 24, 2010). The Executive Order "maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges." Id. Nevertheless, Plaintiffs fear public funds will be used for abortions, (Compl. ¶¶ 18, 36), and seek a declaration prohibiting such use of public funds.

Plaintiffs filed suit on May 14, 2010, and soon thereafter sought to enjoin enforcement of the Act. (Docs. 1, 3 & 6.) On June 10, 2010, this Court denied Plaintiffs' motion for temporary restraining order on grounds that Plaintiffs had not shown such relief was necessary prior to the hearing on preliminary injunction. (June 10, 2010 Order at 2.) On June 25, 2010, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss. (Doc. 25.) The parties agreed to combine the motions, and to submit the motions without oral argument. (Docs. 20 & 32.) On August 2, 2010, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled on a motion to dismiss in Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius, et. al., No. 3:10-cv-188-HEH, a case which also challenges the Act. The parties submitted supplemental briefing on the issues raised in that case. (Docs. 34-36.)


Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendants contend Plaintiffs lack standing to sue because they have not adequately alleged an injury-in-fact, Plaintiffs' claims are not ripe, and the claims are barred by the Anti-Injunction Act. Defendants also move to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Defendants correctly argue Plaintiffs lack standing, and as that issue is dispositive, the balance of Defendants' argument are not addressed. .

To establish the "irreducible constitutional minimum of standing" under Article III, § 2 of the United States Constitution, Plaintiffs must demonstrate: (1) an "'injury in fact' -- an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical," (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the action of the defendant, and (3) it is likely the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992). A particularized injury is one that "affect[s] the plaintiff in a personal and individual way." Id. at 561 n. 1. Standing "requires federal courts to satisfy themselves that 'the plaintiff has 'alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy' as to warrant his invocation of federal-court jurisdiction.'" Summers v. Earth Island Inst., 129 S.Ct. 1142, 1149, ___ U.S. ___ (2009) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498-499 (1975) (original emphasis).

A plaintiff satisfies the injury in fact requirement if he or she suffers "some threatened or actual injury resulting from the putatively illegal action." Scott v. Pasadena Unified Sch. Dist., 306 F.3d 646, 656 (9th Cir. Cal. 2002) (quotations omitted). Allegations of future injury will satisfy the requirement "only if [the plaintiff] 'is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as the result of the challenged official conduct.'" Id. (quoting City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 102 (1983) (original emphasis). Further, "a plaintiff raising only a generally available grievance about government -- claiming only harm to his and every citizen's interest in proper application of the Constitution and laws, and seeking relief that no more directly and tangibly benefits him than it does the public at large -- does not state an Article III case or controversy." Lujan, 504 U.S. at 573-74; see also Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church & State, 454 U.S. 464, 474 (1982) (discussing prudential standing considerations and noting that "the Court has refrained from adjudicating 'abstract ...

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