Supreme Court of California

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CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF SACRAMENTO, INC. v. SUPERIOR COURT OF SACRAMENTO COUNTY (DEP'T OF MANAGED HEALTH CARE), S099822

The Women's Contraception Equity Act (WCEA), which requires employers who provide health insurance prescription coverage to include coverage for prescription contraceptives, does not violate provisions of the state and federal constitutions guaranteeing the free exercise of religion. Even if the WCEA substantially burdens a religious belief or practice, it serves the compelling state interest of eliminating gender discrimination. Plaintiff does not qualify for the Act's "religious employer" exemption because, as it concedes, its purpose is not the inculcation of religious values, it does not primarily hire and serve Catholics, and it does not qualify for federal tax exemption as a church, an integrated auxiliary of a church, a convention or association of churches, or a religious order.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 03/01/2004
  • Published 03/01/2004

Judges

  • WERDEGAR, J.

Court

  • Supreme Court of California

Counsel

  • For Appellant:
  •  Law Office of James Francis Sweeney, Sweeney & Grant, James F. Sweeney, Sacramento, Eric Grant;  Tobin & Tobin, Paul E. Gaspari and Lawrence R. Jannuzzi, San Francisco, for Petitioner., Gaglione, Coleman & Greene, Robert J. Gaglione, Sacramento;  and Michael D. Ramsey for Catholic Charities USA as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioner., Diepenbrock & Costa, Law Offices of Daniel P. Costa, Daniel P. Costa, Sacramento;  and William W. Bassett for California Catholic Conference as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioner.,  Richard D. Ackerman, Temecula and Gary G. Kreep, Escondido, for Life Legal Defense Fund as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioner., Reed & Brown, Stephen W. Reed, Pasadena;  Stuart J. Lark, Colorado Springs, CO, and Gregory S Baylor for Christian Legal Society, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioner., McNicholas & McNicholas and John P. McNicholas, Los Angeles, for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, the Worldwide Church of God and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioner., Alan J. Reinach, Westlake Village;  Alan E. Brownstein;  Bassi, Martinin & Blum and Fred Blum for California Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioner., Sidley & Austin, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, Jeffrey A. Berman, James M. Harris, Los Angeles, Gene C. Schaerr, Washington, DC, Michael S. Lee, Rebecca K. Smith and Eric A. Shumsky for Adventist Health, Alliance of Catholic Health Care, Association of Christian Schools International, Catholic Charities of California, Catholic Charities USA, Inc., Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioner., Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Pamela Smith Steward, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Manuel M. Medeiros and Andrea Lynn Hoch, Assistant Attorneys General, Catherine M. Van Aken, Meg Halloran, Christopher Krueger, Kenneth R. Williams, Kathleen W. Mikkelson, Daniel G. Stone and Timothy M. Muscat, Deputy Attorneys General, for Real Parties in Interest., Catherine Weiss, Julie Sternberg;  Margaret C. Crosby, Ann Brick;  Jordan Budd;  Rocio L. Cordoba and Mark Rosenbaum, Los Angeles, for American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, ACLU Foundation of Southern California and American Civl Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties as Amici Curiae on behalf of Real Parties in Interest., Rosina K. Abramson, Steven M. Freeman, Tamar Galatzan, Erica Broido, Los Angeles;  Rachel Zenner;  Doug Mirell, Daniel Sokatch;  Jerome J. Shestack, Jeffrey P. Sinensky, Kara H. Stein, Danielle A. Samulon;  Morrison & Foerster, J. Michael Stusiak, Sacramento, Sunil R. Kulkarni, Palo Alto and Felton T. Newell for Anti-Defamation  League, Hadassah, The American Jewish Committee and The Progressive Jewish Alliance as Amici Curiae on behalf of Real Parties in Interest., Eisen & Johnston Law Corporation, Jay Allen Eisen and Marian M. Johnston for Assemblymember Robert J. Hertzberg and Senator Jackie Speier as Amici Curiae on behalf of Real Parties in Interest., Edward Tabash, Beverly Hills;  Ayesha Khan, New York, NY;  and Steve K. Green for Americans United for Separation of Church and State as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Real Parties in Interest.

  • For Appellees:
  • No appearance for Respondent., Nancy M. Solomon for California Women's Law Center, California Women Lawyers, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and Queen's Bench Bar Association of the San Francisco Bay Area as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent and Real Parties in Interest., Eve C. Gartner, New York, NY, Donna Lee, San Francisco;  Roberta Riley;  Lilly Spitz;  and Deborah Baumgarten for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, California Planned Parenthood Education Fund, All Planned Parenthood Affiliates and Planned Parenthood Federation of America as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent and Real Parties in Interest., Catherine I. Hanson and Astrid G. Meghrigian, San Francisco, for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the California Medical Association as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent and Real Parties in Interest., McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, Beth H. Parker and Alison R. Beck, San Francisco, for Catholics for a Free Choice, California Catholics for a Free Choice, Catholics Speak Out, Dignity/USA, Vermont Catholics for a Free Conscience, Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual and Women's Ordination Conference as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent and Real Parties in Interest., Bebe J. Anderson;  Farella Braun & Martel, Claudia A. Lewis, Sarah L. Kowalski, San Francisco;  and Ronora Pawelko for The California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, The CaralPro Choice Education Fund, The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, The Education Fund of Family Planning Advocates of New York State, Inc., and National Women's Law Center as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent and Real Parties in Interest.,  Christyne L. Neff and Barry Broad, Sacramento, for International Union, AFL CIO & CLC, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Service Employees International Union, Local 535 and California Nurses Association as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent and Real Parties Interest.

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