Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to strike down contraceptive mandate

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Republican lawmakers have filed legal briefs to the Supreme Court on behalf of two private businesses fighting the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.

In two separate amicus briefs on behalf of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties — one led by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the other led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — the lawmakers argue the requirement that contraception be covered by all health plans violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

“It’s unfortunate but not surprising that the Obama Administration continues to trample on the religious freedoms Americans hold dear, and the contraceptive mandate is a sad example of that,” Hatch said in a statement.

Fourteen other members who voted for the act in the 90s joined the Utah senator in the brief. Hatch was the lead Republican sponsor of the RFRA.

Cruz and his colleagues, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, in their brief also argued the mandate violates the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to free exercise of religion,” Cruz said. “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.”

“We will not stand by as President Obama continues to skirt the law, selectively enforcing Obamacare and hand-picking winners and losers to satisfy his political agenda,” Cornyn added.

The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties both oppose the contraception mandate on religious grounds and lower courts have reached different conclusions on their cases. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that that the contraceptive mandate violates Hobby Lobby’s free exercise of religion, while the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals found that Conestoga Wood Specialties’ rights were not violated. The Supreme Court will have the final say later this year.

Nineteen Democratic senators are also expected to file their own brief on behalf of the Obama administration, according to Yahoo News.

“Allowing a woman’s boss to call the shots about her access to birth control should be inconceivable to all Americans in this day and age, and takes us back to a place in history when women had no voice or choice,” Washington Sen. Patty Murray is expected to say while announcing the brief on the Senate floor, according to prepared remarks provided to Yahoo.

All 19 Democrats named in the brief, Yahoo notes, voted for the RFRA.

Also weighing in on the administration’s behalf are Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter, Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette and 91 of their congressional colleagues, who also announced Tuesday their own amicus brief in favor of the mandate.

According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby, the firm expects 107 members of the House and Senate to file three congressional briefs on their clients behalf.

Hatch was joined in the brief by Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby as well as Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith and Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf.

Murray is joined in hers by Montana Sen. Max Baucus, California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, Maryland Sen. Benjamin Cardin Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.

*This story has been updated to add information about Pelosi, Slaughter, and DeGette’s brief. 

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