January 29, 2014
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), founder and Co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, along with Senator Roy Blunt (MO), has led Members of Congress in defending the constitutional right of religious freedom before the Supreme Court of the United States.
On Tuesday, January 28, 16 Senators and 72 Congressmen filed anamicus curiae brief with the Court in support of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The owners of both businesses are asking the Court to protect their freedom to operate their companies in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs. The brief points out that “Carrying on the beliefs of the nation’s Founders, Congress has a long and uninterrupted tradition of enacting statutory protections of religious liberty for both individuals and entities. These bipartisan legislative efforts reflect Congress’s deep concern for ensuring that laws of general application do not interfere with the free exercise of religion.”
Congressman Forbes said of the mandate:
“The First Amendment guarantees that we have freedom to live our lives according to our religious beliefs and moral convictions, free from government coercion. This freedom is not abandoned simply because an individual enters the stream of commerce. The HHS mandate is a directive from the Department of Health and Human Services; it is not part of the Affordable Care Act and it was not deemed by Congress to promote a compelling governmental interest. The Greens and the Hahns are supported in their claim by the First Amendment and by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. As a nation, our laws should encourage and support—not penalize—citizens who seek to consistently adhere to their moral convictions.”
Two additionalamicus briefs were filed by Members of Congress in support of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties. Senator Hatch and Congressman Goodlatte led 15 Members of Congress—all of whom supported the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when it was passed in 1993—in a brief supporting the successful application of RFRA in this case. Senator Cruz also led 4 Senators in a supportive brief.
The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in both cases on March 25. As of January 28, 2014, 91 cases have been filed challenging the HHS mandate. Of the 46 cases filed by for-profit businesses, 33 have received preliminary injunctions staying the effect of the mandate while the cases are pending. Only 6 businesses have been denied an injunction.
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