Nineteen Democratic senators filed a brief this week with the Supreme Court in support of requiring business owners to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients for their employees over their religious objections.
The senators' amicus curiae brief was filed regarding two cases being heard by the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood — cases surrounding the question of whether individuals, as owners of businesses, should have their free exercise rights protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Obamacare regulations require all businesses with more than 50 employees to provide employer-provided health insurance policies that cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs without co-pay. Owners of businesses sued, arguing that as sole-owners of companies, their religious free exercise rights are being violated.
Some plaintiffs lost, and appealed to the high court, while others won, and the government appealed.
The senators’ brief argues that the protections afforded to individuals under RFRA shouldn’t apply to individuals as business owners since, they argue, the law was written with the understanding that "free-exercise rights were limited to individuals and religious organizations,” not to secular-for profit corporations.
The brief concludes that the RFRA’s protections shouldn’t be extended to individuals in their capacity as owners of closely-held businesses. In ruling in favor of the religious small business owners, who sought protection under RFRA, the senators say the appellate court’s ruling "opened the door to allowing corporate shareholders to impose their religious beliefs on others, by virtue of their control of secular, for-profit corporations."
Here’s the list of senators who signed the brief: Patty Murray, Max Baucus, Barbara Boxer, Sherrod Brown, Maria Cantwell, Benjamin J. Cardin, Richard J. Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Tom Harkin, Tim Johnson, Patrick J. Leahy, Carl Levin, Edward J. Markey, Robert Menendez, Barbara A. Mikulski, Harry Reid, Bernard Sanders, Charles E. Schumer, and Ron Wyden.