SALT LAKE CITY – Sen. Orrin Hatch, current member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius case. Hobby Lobby Stores, a Christian-owned chain of retail stores, sued the Department of Health and Human Services, arguing that the HHS rule mandating that women’s preventative services be covered by all health insurance plans – as a requirement of the President’s health law – is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Hatch was an author of RFRA, and in February led a group of Members of Congress in filing an amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby when the case was before U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (that brief can be found here).
Last week marked the 20th anniversary of Religious Freedom Restoration Act becoming law, and over the last 20 years the law has stood for the principle that religious freedom is more important that any particular political priority,” Hatch said. “I’ve long argued that Obamacare violated the religious liberty protections Americans hold dear, regardless of political party. The simple fact is that one of our country’s founding principles was religious freedom for all, and I hope the justices on the court understand that this case will determine how important religious freedom is in American today and whether our country still stands for that guiding principle.
Under the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, employers who fail to provide this coverage must pay $100 per day per employee, which Hobby Lobby argued would cost the company approximately $1.3 million per day (about $475 million per year). One of the issues the Supreme Court will decide is whether this penalty amounts to a “substantial burden” under RFRA. The 10th Circuit ruled 5-3 in favor of Hobby Lobby that for-profit companies can be “persons” exercising religion within the meaning of RFRA and that the choice of violating religious belief or paying heavy fines is a substantial burden.
The case will be decided by the Supreme Court in the current term goes through the end of June 2014.
Submitted by the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch