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Monday, June 30, 2014

Capitol Hill responds to Supreme Court religious freedom ruling

This morning the Supreme Court announced its ruling in a landmark case involving religious freedom. While I am presently immersed in reading the decision, I wanted to relay to you the word from Capitol Hill, where pro-life legislators are reacting enthusiastically to the decision, which comports with a two-decades-old Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed on a bipartisan basis by Congress.
Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Specialties Wood Corp. v. Burwell.  In a 5-4 decision the Court ruled that the HHS preventive services mandate imposed an undue burden on the religious freedom of the Green and Hahn family businesses under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The ruling applies specifically to closely-held corporations and the contraceptive mandate.
Today’s decision is not the end of litigation on the HHS preventive services mandate. 51 non-profit cases, including the case brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor, are still under consideration.  These plaintiffs are specifically contesting an application of the HHS mandate that only applies to objecting nonprofit religious organizations and requires them to sign a document saying they object to all or some of the mandated services, but triggers their insurance company to provide the coverage to their employees anyway.
Highlights from the decision:
 “We doubt that the Congress that enacted RFRA—or, for that matter, ACA—would have believed it a tolerable result to put family-run businesses to the choice of violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or making all of their employees lose their existing healthcare plans.” (p.35, Opinion of the Court)
 “Because the contraceptive mandate forces them to pay an enormous sum of money – as much as $475 million per year in the case of Hobby Lobby – if they insist on providing insurance coverage in accordance with their religious beliefs, the mandate clearly imposes a substantial burden on those beliefs.” (P.38, Opinion of the Court)
Press releases from Members of Congress and law firms involved in the cases:

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