- (Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)
Members of Congress have filed a brief in support of Hobby Lobby, a Christian business currently suing the federal government over the Department of Health and Human Services' "preventive services" mandate.
Nine Senators and two representatives, all Republican, filed an amicus brief last week to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on behalf of Hobby Lobby, Inc.
"Congress has commanded equal treatment of all under a religion-protective rule. Defendants may not pick and choose whose exercise of religion is protected and whose is not," reads the brief.
"Amici respectfully ask the Court to reverse the district court's denial of preliminary injunctive relief and to guarantee Plaintiffs the full protection that Congress provided in [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] by ordering injunctive relief that prohibits Defendants' enforcement of the HHS mandate against them."
The Congressional members submitting the brief were Senators Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Daniel R. Coats of Indiana, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Michael Crapo of Idaho, Charles Grassley of Iowa, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Richard Shelby of Alabama, and Congressmen Lamar Smith of Texas and Frank Wolf of Virginia.
In September of last year, Hobby Lobby Inc. filed suit against the federal government over the "preventive services" mandate, arguing that it forced the company to provide the "morning after pill" and "week after pill," considered by many to be drugs tantamount to abortion. The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, has argued that providing such drugs goes contrary to their religious conscience.
In the last days of 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant Hobby Lobby an injunction while the suit was being argued, which meant that starting in 2013 the company would have to pay a $1.3 million fee every day until they complied with the HHS mandate.
Both the Tenth Circuit and the Supreme Court argued that compliance with the mandate does not provide a "substantial burden" for Hobby Lobby.
However, in January Hobby Lobby announced that they had found a way to delay compliance with the HHS mandate while still not directly providing the "morning after" and "week after" pills.
"Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months," said Peter M. Dobelbower, the company's general counsel, in a statement.
A private retail crafts company with over 22,000 employees and owned by an evangelical Christian family, Hobby Lobby is one of many businesses and groups filing suit against HHS over the mandate.