Nine U.S. Senators & Two Representatives: Religious Freedom Includes Hobby Lobby

    • An extraordinary example of bipartisanship, RFRA was introduced by then-Senator Joe Biden, Senator Orrin Hatch, and the late Senator Ted Kennedy, as well as then-Congressmen Chuck Schumer. The bill was signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.

    • Hobby Lobby is a Christian owned-and-operated, running their business according to biblical principles.

Brief confirms that the bi-partisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects Hobby Lobby from HHS Mandate

For Immediate Release: February 20, 2013
Media Contact: Emily Hardman, ehardman@becketfund.org, 202.349.7224

Washington, D.C. – Last night, nine U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives, along with the Oklahoma Attorney General and 11 other key groups, filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the Becket Fund’s challenge to the HHS mandate on behalf of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The HHS mandate forces the Christian-owned-and-operated business to provide the “morning after pill” and “week after pill” in their health insurance plan or face crippling fines.

“While any brief by sitting members of Congress is significant, this one comes from members who originally supported the federal civil rights law—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—which is at the heart of the mandate challenges,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “The brief leaves no doubt that Congress intended to protect the religious freedom of those like Hobby Lobby and its founder, David Green, against federal attempts to force them to insure abortion-inducing drugs.”

The case is currently before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.  A hearing could take place as early as this spring.

Signed by Senators Orrin G. Hatch, Daniel R. Coats, Thad Cochran, Mike Crapo, Charles Grassley, James M. Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Richard Shelby and Congressmen Lamar Smith and Frank Wolf, the Congressional brief states:

  • “Congress plainly wrote [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or “RFRA”] to include corporations[.]”
  • The federal government “may not pick and choose whose exercise of religion is protected and whose is not.”

The federal government’s “refusal to apply RFRA . . . turns the law of religious freedom upside down. RFRA places a heavy burden on Government and protects religion by default. But the HHS mandate places a heavy burden on religion and protects Government by default.”

An extraordinary example of bipartisanship, versions of RFRA were introduced by then-Senator Joe Biden, Senator Orrin Hatch and the late Senator Ted Kennedy, as well as then-Congressmen Chuck Schumer and Christopher Cox. It drew support from groups ranging from the ACLU, the Christian Legal Society, People for the American Way, the Southern Baptist Convention and Concerned Women for America. RFRA was signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.

In addition, 11 other key briefs were filed on behalf of Hobby Lobby stores, including the State of Oklahoma, the Christian Medical Association and the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, to name a few.

Brief of the State of Oklahoma:

  • “Operation of the Green Family’s corporations in a manner consistent with the Green Family’s religious faith is no less worthy of respect and protection than is the religious faith practiced by church members through a church also organized as a corporation under Oklahoma General Corporation Act.”

Brief of the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life and National Association of Pro Life Nurses:

  • “‘[E]mergency contraception’” [such as the “morning after” and “week after” pill] has the potential to terminate the lives of unborn children. Being forced to pay for the termination of a human life is just as objectionable as being forced to participate in the termination of the human life.”

Brief of Emeritus Professor of Law Charles E. Rice, Professor of Law Bradley P. Jacob, The Texas Center for Defense of Life and The National Legal Foundation

  • ”Just as a person who believes killing animals is morally wrong would reasonably think it wrong to give a gift certificate to a steakhouse, so a person who believes abortion is morally wrong could reasonably believe it wrong to provide health insurance that can be used to pay only for those goods and services the policy covers and that specifically covers abortifacients.”

Brief of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Association of Christian Schools International, National Association of Evangelicals, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, The C12 Group and Christian Legal Society as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellants and Reversal

  • “Former Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and several other pro-life Democrats voted for ACA based on their belief that Executive Order 13535 would protect conscience rights as to ACA’s implementation. Former Representative Stupak has stated that the Mandate ‘clearly violates Executive Order 13535.’”

Brief of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

  • “Nadine Strossen, then president of the ACLU, testified in support of RFRA, noting that the statute safeguarded ‘such familiar practices as. . . permitting religiously sponsored hospitals to decline to provide abortion or contraception services’ to others.”
  • The notion that a federal court may don ecclesiastical robes and purport to tell citizens that they do not correctly perceive the tenets of their faith is entirely foreign to American legal practice and experience.”

Briefs in support of Hobby Lobby also include:

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty  is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. For 18 years its attorneys have been recognized as experts in the field of church-state law.  The Becket Fund recently won a 9-0 victory in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

 For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, Communications Director, at ehardman@becketfund.org or call 202.349.7224.

###

Additional Information:

Hobby Lobby Resources:

Legal Documents:

Amicus Briefs:

Previous Press Releases:

 

*Photo Credit: National Archives.  Used by permission.
  • Media Essentials
  • Press Releases
  • Legal Documents
  • In the news
  • Video and Images