Lawmakers file opposing briefs in contraceptive mandate fight

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court, each urging the high court to decide in their favor on whether the reform law's contraception mandate is constitutional.

On Tuesday, 19 Democratic senators, including Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Harry Reid (Nev.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), filed their friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Obama administration's position against companies that claim paying for employees' birth control violates their religious freedom. They said craft store chain Hobby Lobby, which is suing the federal government over the mandate, shouldn't be exempt from including contraception coverage because the company's religious beliefs don't support some birth control methods, reported 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," Murray said yesterday a statement. "In fact, contraception was included as a required preventive service in the Affordable Care Act on the recommendation of the independent, nonprofit Institute of Medicine and other medical experts because it is essential to the health of women and families."

Meanwhile, 15 GOP lawmakers submitted their own brief arguing the birth control mandate violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). "Religious freedom should not be a political issue," Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) said yesterday in a statement. "It is one of our country's founding principles, and I'm hopeful that the Supreme Court will reconfirm that our country will not stand for forcing one's beliefs onto others who may morally object to them."

Although the Democratic senators all voted for the RFRA, they said the law's religious protections aren't applicable to a for-profit company. They claimed if the Supreme Court sides with Hobby Lobby, the decision would allow "a secular, for-profit corporation's shareholders, through the corporation, to impose their religious beliefs on their employees and to deny employees health benefits and rights to which they are entitled," Yahoo News reported.  

To learn more:
- check out the Democratic statement
- here's the GOP statement and brief (.pdf)
- read the Yahoo News article