Yesterday, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a “friend of the court” brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of two Christian businesses that are challenging the constitutionality of the Obamacare contraception mandate. During this term, the Court will be deciding in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius whether the owners of for-profit family businesses, or their closely-held business corporations, have free exercise rights that are violated by the mandate.
In its brief, AFLC urges the Court to protect the fundamental right to religious exercise by striking down the contraceptive mandate, which requires certain non-exempt organizations to provide insurance plans that promote and facilitate the use of contraceptives, abortifacients, and related services. As AFLC argues in its brief:
[In] the situation confronted by the challengers here, private citizens seek to operate their company or organization in accord with the tenets of their faith. Permitting the government to impose this unconscionable mandate on businesses and nonprofit organizations will effectively exclude faith-conscious owners and directors from participating in business affairs and public life — a result squarely at odds with the First Amendment and the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act].
AFLC further argues that neither the Supreme Court nor any other government authority has the power to decide whether compliance with the contraceptive services mandate can be reconciled with the religious beliefs of the challengers. The challengers have concluded that their legal obligations under the mandate and their religious obligations compelled by their consciences are incompatible. Therefore, the challengers are left with the Hobson’s choice of either violating their religious beliefs or suffering crippling financial penalties — a choice which imposes a “substantial burden” on religious exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented:
“Contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients are all instruments of the culture of death, and their use can never be approved, endorsed, facilitated, promoted, or supported in any way. By forcing Hobby Lobby and other businesses to comply with the mandate under penalty of federal law, President Obama and his legion of secular progressives are trampling all over religious freedom and the right of conscience, which are protected by the First Amendment and RFRA.”
David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, remarked:
“The Bill of Rights protects religious beliefs and the rights of conscience that flow from those beliefs. These rights are not subject to arbitrary government power or societal preferences. Consequently, the Supreme Court should uphold this fundamental freedom against President Obama’s unconscionable and unlawful mandate.”