Wicker: Supreme Court Considers Pivotal Case on Religious Freedom

The Obama Administration’s intrusiveness into Americans’ daily lives is again under scrutiny by the Supreme Court. Two family-owned companies, Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties, say these contraceptives go against their long-held religious beliefs. During the case’s oral arguments on March 25, lawyer Paul Clement explained that the…

The office of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., issued the following weekly report:

The Obama Administration’s intrusiveness into Americans’ daily lives is again under scrutiny by the Supreme Court. This time the justices will determine whether the President’s health-care law violates the right to religious freedom under the First Amendment and statutory law.

At the center of the debate is the health-care law’s requirement for employers to offer insurance plans with certain forms of contraceptives. Two family-owned companies, Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties, say these contraceptives go against their long-held religious beliefs. The owners decided to challenge the law in court because they are faced with an unacceptable dilemma: subvert their faith to comply with Obamacare or incur massive financial penalties for not providing the plans mandated by the government.

Defending the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

During the case’s oral arguments on March 25, lawyer Paul Clement explained that the position of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties is supported not only by the First Amendment but also by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Congress enacted RFRA in 1993 – with strong bipartisan support – to allow Americans to practice our religion according to conscience unless a “compelling government interest” is at stake.

As Clement noted, religious employers like churches and monasteries are already exempted from covering the contraceptives they oppose. Family business that have similar religious objections should be treated the same.

In January, I joined 15 of my colleagues in the Senate and 72 members in the House of Representatives to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The brief reiterated that the health-care law should not infringe Americans’ right of conscience. Part of what makes America exceptional is the constitutional assurance that everyone can exercise his or her religious beliefs free from government persecution.

InsuranceNewsNet
4/6/14