Congressmen brief US Supreme Court, health care law’s contraception mandate is illegal

WASHINGTON D.C. – In advance of the Supreme Court hearing a case concerning the contraception mandate implemented as part of the president’s health care law, a group of 15 members of Congress who voted for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act filed a legal brief with the court Tuesday arguing that that the mandate violates the religious freedom act.

The mandate requires that women’s contraception, including abortifacient drugs, be covered by all health insurance plans. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law in 1993 by Democrat President Bill Clinton after passing Congress overwhelmingly in 1993 (by a 97-3 vote in the Senate, and unanimously in the House).

The brief, led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, a current member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary who was the lead Republican sponsor of RFRA, was filed in a case combining two legal challenges to the contraceptive mandate by private businesses who operate consistent with their owners’ religious principles – a suit brought by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and a separate suit brought by Conestoga Wood Specialties. In the Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that the contraceptive mandate violates the company’s free exercise of religion, while the 3rd Circuit ruled that Conestoga Wood Specialties’ rights were not violated.

“It’s unfortunate but not surprising that the Obama Administration continues to trample on the religious freedoms Americans hold dear, and the contraceptive mandate is a sad example of that,” Hatch said. “Just last week the Supreme Court ruled that some religious organizations are exempt from the mandate, but why not all? Religious freedom should not be a political issue. It is one of our country’s founding principles, and I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court will reconfirm that our country will not stand for forcing one’s beliefs onto others who may morally object to them.”

In the brief, the authors wrote: “The government’s refusal to apply RFRA throughout the administrative process has resulted in a mandate that violates RFRA and turns the law of religious freedom upside down. RFRA places a heavy burden on the government and protects religion by default. But the (Health and Human Services) mandate places a heavy burden on religion and protects the government by default.”

In addition to Hatch, the brief was signed by Republican Sens. Dan Coats, Ind. Thad Cochran, Miss., Mike Crapo, Idaho, Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Jim Inhofe, Okla., John McCain, Ariz., Mitch McConnell, Ky., Rob Portman, Ohio, Pat Roberts, Kans., and Richard Shelby, Ala.; and by Republican Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Va.-06, Lamar Smith, Tex.-21, Chris Smith, N.J.-04, and Frank Wolf, Va.-10.

Review the brief here: Amici Curiae Brief Senators support Hobby Lobby et al.

Submitted by the Office of Sen. Orrin Hatch

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