Nineteen Democratic Senators filed an amicus brief siding with the Obama Administration Tuesday in a long-running court case which could determine whether the government has the power to enforce a controversial Obamacare provision over the religious objections of Christian business owners.
The family of David Green, who owns the Hobby Lobby retail chain, filed the lawsuit to block the Obama Administration from forcing the company to pay for its employees’ birth control under Obamacare. The family, citing religious convictions, maintains that the government cannot require companies to fund mandatory programs that company owners deem immoral according to their interpretation of Biblical moral precepts.
The Greens’ case had already won a victory in U.S. District Court last summer, when an Oklahoma City Judge issued a preliminary injunction exempting the company from having to follow the contraception mandate until after the lawsuit had run its course. The case has since moved to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Democratic Senators filed their Tuesday brief.
The Senators argue that Hobby Lobby as a company cannot avail itself of the same protections afforded to individuals by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The Act was passed to protect individuals and nonprofit organizations against government policies that infringe on their religious beliefs, but the Obama Administration argues the law does not apply to companies.
Late Tuesday, A group of 18 Republican Senators countered by filing an amicus brief of their own in support of Hobby Lobby. They argued that the Obamacare contraception mandate violates the 1st Amednment’s Free Exercise Clause, in addition to portions of the RFRA.
“The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to free exercise of religion,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the lawmakers attached to the brief. “Yet, the Obama administration has chosen repeatedly to break the law by giving breaks to big business and Congress, while refusing to grant those same waivers to people with sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Hobby Lobby employs 13,000 people.