Press Releases

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Feb 20 2013

Members of Congress File Legal Brief on HHS Contraception Mandate

Group Argues that Mandate Violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

A group of 11 Members of Congress have filed an amicus brief stating that the preventative services mandate implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. The preventative services mandate, implemented as part of Obamacare, mandates that women’s preventative services be covered by all health insurance plans. The brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. in a suit being brought by Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a Christian-owned chain of stores, and the company’s owners, who argue that the mandate violates their right to religious exercise. 

Signers of the brief, led by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), all voted for RFRA when it passed Congress in 1993 (by a 97-3 vote in the Senate, and unanimously in the House).

“As one of the lead sponsors of RFRA, it’s deeply troubling to see this White House trample on the religious freedom the law seeks to protect,” Hatch said. “Religious freedom is an issue our country was founded on, and it’s not a Democrat or Republican issue. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has time and again ignored calls to stop the implementation of a policy some organizations or businesses are morally opposed to.”

In the brief, the authors write that, “Defendants ignored RFRA in formulating the narrow religious exemption at the outset and have only begun to attend to its requirements because of litigation and the reaction to public scrutiny.” The brief adds that “Defendants’ refusal to address RFRA in any meaningful way (except when sued in federal court) is remarkable. But it is also consistent with the way Defendants have treated the law of religious freedom from the beginning of the HHS mandate.”

In addition to Hatch, the brief was signed by Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), and Frank Wolf (R-Va.).

The full brief can be found HERE.