WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the federal government cannot force closely-held businesses to violate sincerely held religious beliefs in order to comply with the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
The decision invalidates the birth control mandate of the Affordable Care Act, to the extent it directs businesses to provide birth control coverage to their employees. Faith-based businesses, religious schools and churches are exempt under the law, but the mandate did not provide allowances for secular businesses that are owned by those whose religious beliefs may go against the mandate.
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a lead author of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, issued the following statements after the Supreme Court decided that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule mandating that women’s preventative services be covered by all health insurance plans – as a requirement of the president’s health care law – is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Today’s decision in Burwell v Hobby Lobby marks an important victory for religious liberty. Americans do not shed their religious freedoms merely by going into business. The Court’s ruling upholds and strengthens the rights of individuals and the rule of law, while protecting the Constitution.
I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to protect the religious freedom of all Americans, both individually and collectively. The notion that religious freedom belongs only to some, and even then only in private, defies our nation’s traditions, our laws, and our Constitution. And as the Supreme Court rightfully said today, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could not have been clearer in saying religious liberty of all Americans must be equally protected and not unnecessarily burdened. That’s why RFRA passed Congress overwhelmingly more than 20 years ago, and why it was so appalling when the Obama administration ignored the rights of American’s and violated the law by adopting this mandate. While the Obama Administration and its allies have tried to make this simply a dispute over birth control, the Supreme Court agreed that the real issue is whether the Obama administration can ignore the law and, in doing so, trample religious freedom. Today’s decision reaffirms the supremacy of our nation’s laws and rights over President Obama’s divisive agenda.
Hatch was the lead Republican sponsor of Religious Freedom Restoration Act when it passed Congress in 1993 – by a 97-3 vote in the Senate, and unanimously in the House – and was signed into law by President Clinton. The law provides that the government may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion unless it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government purpose.
In February 2013, Hatch led a group of members of Congress in filing an amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby’s rights under Religious Freedom Restoration Act when the case was before U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and led a second group in submitting a legal brief in the case currently before the Supreme Court.
“From the start, this case was about whether the government could blatantly ignore the constitutionally-protected right to the free exercise of religion and force people of faith to violate their deeply held religious convictions,” American Family Association President Tim Wildmon said.
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