Catholic and evangelical leaders, legal scholars, medical groups, and advocates for women are among the individuals and organizations filing dozens of briefs at the Supreme Court in support of two family-owned companies challenging an Obamacare provision that they say tramples their religious freedom.
By the midnight deadline, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty predicts, more than 50 briefs – including one representing 20 states — will have been filed on behalf of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, whose cases have been consolidated by the high court. Among the more intriguing entries are briefs from Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank; the Catholic Medical Association; Orthodox Union, a leading Jewish association; and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The final number is expected to be significantly higher than those filed in support of the Health and Human Services mandate, which, the Becket Fund argues, would force religious employers either to pay hefty per-employee fines or violate their faith by providing “free” contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in employee health plans.
“The Obama administration is essentially arguing that the religious freedom of family business owners stops at the doors of their workplace,” Heritage Foundation policy analyst Sarah Torre, who has written extensively on the HHS mandate, told The Foundry.
“By the administration’s reasoning, faith is restricted to formal houses of worship,” Torre said. “Step outside the four walls of your home or place of worship and protection of your religious freedom ends. That isn’t consistent with the protection of religious liberty enshrined in our founding, and defended in laws like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
Hobby Lobby is an Oklahoma-based chain of arts and crafts stores owned by the Green family, who are evangelical Christians. Conestoga Wood Specialties is a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of custom wood cabinets owned by the Hahn family, who are Mennonites. Becket Fund attorneys represent Hobby Lobby, while attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom represent Conestoga.
“Allowing a woman’s boss to call the shots about her access to birth control should be inconceivable to all Americans in this day and age, and takes us back to a place in history when women had no voice or choice,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said in prepared remarks about a brief she was to file with 18 other Senate Democrats.
Although Murray is among congressional Democrats filing briefs in support of the HHS mandate, far more Republican members of the House and Senate appear to be among those filing briefs on the side of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga.
“This outpouring of support for the Green and Hahn families’ fight shows the extent of the HHS mandate’s serious assault on a fundamental freedom,” Torre said.
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.