Dem on Hobby Lobby Case: 'No One Has the Right to Discriminate Against a Woman'
(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce a critical decision on religious freedom Monday: Can a private company be forced, under Obamacare, to provide contraception and abortifacients to its workers, in violation of the owners' deeply held relgious beliefs?
"The government will not violate anyone's religious beliefs, but no one has the right to discriminate against a woman because of her own beliefs. And I believe that the Supreme Court will find that no business...should be allowed to discriminate against women," Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) told "Fox News Sunday."
What about the owner's right to religious freedom? host Chris Wallace asked Becerra.
"The owner has a right to his or her religious beliefs," Becerra conceded, "but that doesn't mean you get to discriminate against women if women have different beliefs than what the owner has, and the woman wants to exercise her rights under the Constitution."
Appearing with Becerra, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said he believes the health care law -- "as interpreted by the president, violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, and I'm hoping the court will uphold the rights of individuals for their expression of their religious freedoms."
Invoking the authority of the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department issued a regulation requiring all employers to provide birth-control coverage as part of preventive services in their health-insurance plans, or else pay a fine. But the owners of two for-profit companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, say the government is compelling them to violate their religious beliefs as Christian business owners.
A key question for the justices is whether a for-profit business has religious rights under federal law or the Constitution.
The Family Research Council, in a friend of the court brief, argued in March that Catholic teaching sees no difference between an individual’s private and commercial activity; both are considered governed by one’s religion.
But Democrats, in their amicus brief, argued that when they passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, they did not intend it to apply to for-profit corporations.
Others have argued that Obamacare's contraception mandate does not violate the free exercise of religion, because it doesn’t require Christian business owners to take contraception themselves if they have religious objections.
During oral arguments before the Supreme Court in March, liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan questioned whether Hobby Lobby could simply choose not to offer health insurance at all and pay the tax instead.
But Justice John Roberts noted that the owners have expressed a "religious commitment" to provide health care for their employees.