WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and hundreds of members of Congress have entered the legal battle to defend Americans’ First Amendment rights by filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Zubik v. Burwell.
“Throughout our nation’s history, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently affirmed our First Amendment right to exercise religious beliefs freely. Recent federal intrusion on the First Amendments and the threat to religious liberty should concern all Americans – whether or not they ascribe to a particular faith,” Sen. Moran said. “I urge the Supreme Court to protect our foundational and essential principle of religious liberty.”
The case constitutes a challenge by Bishop David Zubik on behalf of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the Little Sisters of the Poor, multiple educational institutions and other religious nonprofit organizations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive-coverage mandate. The amicus brief was co-signed by a bipartisan group of 32 senators and 175 representatives. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in late March on the consolidated cases.
The amicus brief lays out three arguments:
- Congress has a long tradition of protecting religious liberty – including that of groups – and there has traditionally been strong bipartisan support for such efforts;
- Congress enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to ensure broad protection of religious liberty, whether or not a specific religious exemption appears in a particular law; and
- The HHS regulations do not satisfy the high bar set by RFRA. RFRA’s requirements govern the Affordable Care Act like all other statutes that do not contain an express disclaimer. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, the Little Sisters of the Poor and all other concerned parties are protected by RFRA.
This brief was also filed by Congresswoman Diane Black (R-TN-06) and Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA-03).