Black, Kelly, Hatch, and Lankford Announce Amicus Brief in Support of Nonprofits’ Challenge to HHS Mandate

Jan 11, 2016 Issues: Health

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA-03), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) announced the submission of a bipartisan amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court and signed by 207 members of the House and Senate in support of the religious nonprofits and charities challenging Obamacare’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, including Little Sisters of the Poor. The nonprofits’ challenge will be heard this year in the case of Zubik vs. Burwell.

The amicus brief argues that religious freedom is a fundamental guarantee of the United States Constitution and, more recently, of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, noting that “Despite RFRA’s command that the religious beliefs of all individuals and organizations be accorded the same deference, HHS has given the religious liberties of religious non-profits second-tier status.”

Black, Kelly, Hatch, and Lankford released the following statements:

“It is hard to imagine what could possibly be more pure or worthwhile than the ministry of Little Sisters of the Poor and the other religious nonprofits represented in this case. We should be praising their work, not punishing it. Sadly, that is exactly what Obamacare’s coercive HHS mandate will do. The law sets up an impossible choice for these organizations: deny their deeply held beliefs and provide coverage for drugs they deem to be morally objectionable, or face crippling financial penalties from the federal government. This is a pivotal moment for religious freedom and I am honored to lend my voice and my prayers to the growing chorus calling on the Supreme Court to rectify this crisis and protect these time-honored rights from government attack when this case is heard later this year,” said Congressman Diane Black.

“The HHS mandate remains a hideous component of a disastrous law that puts government’s power over people’s rights. It puts this administration on the wrong side of our nation’s long and cherished history of religious liberty and tolerance—and deserves to be defeated. With this amicus brief, my colleagues and I stand side by side with the Little Sisters of the Poor and all those whose First Amendment rights have been trampled under this president’s agenda. I expect the Supreme Court to ultimately free these heroic nuns from the mandate’s oppressive penalties and allow them to continue serving a country where religious freedom is not just settled but celebrated. No government program or politician must ever be permitted to punish American citizens for peacefully following their faith—period,” said Congressman Mike Kelly.

“Religious freedom is a fundamental right that government must respect and accommodate,” said Senator Orrin Hatch, a coauthor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Threatening draconian fines if religious organizations are unwilling to violate their faith clearly violates federal law.”

“This bipartisan amicus brief articulates the great concern that many Americans have about our First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion. The case exposes the Obama administration’s focus on freedom of worship as our primary religious right, instead of our freedom of religion, which includes our everyday lives. Colleges, universities and nonprofits should never be placed in a position where they have to violate their faith to please the government. The question before the Supreme Court should never have reached this level, but it is important for the future of our liberty that the Court now rule in favor of religious freedom,” said Senator James Lankford.