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U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks on Senate Democrats amicus brief in support of the government's position in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
Legislative intent is supposed to be one of the critical factors courts consider when deciding challenges. To that end, scores of congressional Democrats—most of whom were around when both the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Affordable Care Act were passed—have provided briefs to the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood challenges over the ACA's requirement that most employers provide health insurance for their employees that covers contraception without copay. Both Senate and House Democrats have submitted briefs.
The senators, led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), on Tuesday filed an amicus brief on the upcoming Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases set to be heard late March, arguing that "secular, for-profit corporations" have no legal right to an exemption from the health care law's birth control mandate.

[...] They argue that RFRA's text and legislative history contradict the challengers' claims that they should be exempt from the birth control rule because it runs afoul of RFRA.

"Exempting secular, for-profit corporations from the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive-coverage requirement is inconsistent with RFRA's legislative history and intent, and undermines the Affordable Care Act’s carefully crafted balance between a compelling governmental interest and individual free-exercise rights," the senators write. [...] "Congress could have explicitly included secular for-profit corporations in RFRA. It did not."

House Democratic leadership, along with 87 rank and file members provide a similar argument: "The contraceptive coverage requirement does not substantially burden any exercise of religion in which the Corporations might be found to engage because it does not compel the Corporations to administer or use the contraceptive methods to which they object, nor does it require them to adhere to, affirm, or abandon a particular belief."

The Court will hear the case in late March.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 12:28 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 12:28:48 PM PST

  •  I'm A Little Concerned That They're Implying (0+ / 0-)

    corporations do believe things.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 12:51:19 PM PST

  •  I think the right decision will be made here (0+ / 0-)

    It seems odd that a congressional delegation would petition the SCOTUS but I am sure it has happened many many times before.  I wonder if that has any kind of influence on what the Supremes eventually come up with.  

    To me, they are there to do one thing and one thing only and that is to rule on the constitutionality of any specific law or part of any specific law in our country.

    Liberal progressives have a big voice speaking for them in their presentations to the SCOTUS on this matter.  

    I guess I am wondering if any influence peddling so to speak might end up hurting a cause in these circumstances.

  •  Even if they weren't corporations, though (9+ / 0-)

    there's no reason a sole proprietor (with enough employees to be required to provide health insurance) should have the right to inflict his (or her) personal religious beliefs on his employees.

    Freedom of religion doesn't give someone the right to violate someone else's freedom. The very idea makes a mockery of the First Amendment.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 03:58:10 PM PST

  •  The concept of human rights (0+ / 0-)

    …continues to elude USians.


    “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

    by Pluto on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 03:58:30 PM PST

  •  Love that she represents my state! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizaveta

    Go Patty!
    Peace and Blessings!

    For those abused, war torn and blood-soaked regions of the world: due to our apathy, our need for cheap shit, and our wars on terror and drugs, we apologize for the inconvenience.

    by Penny GC on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 04:07:30 PM PST

  •  United States v Lee, 1982 - Precedent? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HugoDog, burnt out, arlene, slothlax

    Western District of Pennsylvania

    "Appellee, a farmer and carpenter, is a member of the Old Order Amish, who believe that there is a religiously based obligation to provide for their fellow members the kind of assistance contemplated by the social security system. During certain years when he employed other Amish to work on his farm and in his carpentry shop, appellee failed to withhold social security taxes from his employees or to pay the employer's share of such taxes because he believed that payment of the taxes and receipt of benefits would violate the Amish faith. "

    The court held that: "While there is a conflict between the Amish faith and the obligations imposed by the social security system, not all burdens on religion are unconstitutional. The state may justify a limitation on religious liberty by showing that it is essential to accomplish an overriding governmental interest."

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/...

  •  I'll bet on a 5 to 4 decision, whichever side wins (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HugoDog, slothlax

    That seems like an odds-on bet.  Anyone want to guess the odds?  I'd say it's at least 3 to 1 likely to be a 5-4 verdict (unless someone recuses herself/himself).

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 04:09:27 PM PST

  •  I already know how Roberts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bananapouch1

    and Scalia are going to vote.

    I was up all night trying to think of another word for synonym.

    by jazzmaniac on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 04:13:53 PM PST

  •  How stupid are the Repubs? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anon004, slothlax

    They know how they got hammered over contraception in 2012. They know the issue makes them look like retarded dinosaurs. If they had a brain, they would run away from it... instead, they are embracing a debate over birth control for the next few months.

  •  It's Not Their Money (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib, slothlax

    The simple truth is that these people don't have standing to sue (IMHO) because they don't have any material interest in how the money is spent. Once a party (religious or not) compensates an employee that compensation belongs to the employee.

    So, when any employer gives insurance to its employees it does not have a right to tell them what kind of coverage they should be able to get with it.

    As I've said before, it's like someone paid you a $100 and then said, "But, don't spend it on a vacation. I'm not giving you this money to take a vacation, I'm giving it to you to get food. So, don't go planning any trips to Florida [name your spot] because this money is for food, not for your entertainment."

    That's not compensation. That's bondage.

  •  Similar argument expected in another case? (0+ / 0-)
    "Congress could have explicitly included secular for-profit corporations in RFRA. It did not."
    Interestingly, when the question of if subsidies are available to those who utilize the Federal exchange (and, hence, if employers in those states could ever be subject to fines because one of their employees had to resort to the Federal exchange) reaches the Supreme Court, I expect that the plaintiffs will make a very similar argument - "Congress could have explicitly included subsidies for those utilizing the Federal exchange. It did not."

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