WASHINGTON—TheU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on January 28 filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S.Supreme Court in support of the plaintiffs in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.In both cases, family-owned businesses arechallenging the legality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(HHS) regulation that forces virtually all employers to include in theiremployee health plans coverage of sterilization, contraceptives, and drugs anddevices that may cause abortions, as well as related education and counseling.
TheUSCCB explained in its amicus briefthat it opposes "any rule that would require faithful Catholics and other religiouslymotivated business owners to choose between providing coverage for products andspeech that violate their religious beliefs, and exposing their businesses todevastating penalties." These penalties include "potentially fatal fines" of$100 a day per affected individual.
Thebrief reflects and implements the U.S. bishops' consistent support for litigants from the non-profit and for-profit sectors alike who havechallenged the HHS mandate in court.
ArchbishopWilliam E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee forReligious Liberty, stated that "Catholics believe that the right to religiousfreedom proceeds from the inherent dignity of each and every human person, andthat includes people who run businesses. They should not be specially excludedfrom the freedom to practice their faith in daily life."
Theamicus brief argued that religiousexercise cannot, and should not, be excluded from the marketplace; that themandate substantially burdens Hobby Lobby's and Conestoga's religious exercise;and that the mandate cannot survive strict scrutiny review by the Court.
Hobby Lobbyand Conestoga Wood Specialties areamong over 90 lawsuits filed by more than 300 plaintiffs challenging the HHSmandate in courts around the country.
Keywords: U.S. Supreme Court, USCCB,U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop William Lori, HobbyLobby, Conestoga Wood, brief, amicus curiae, U.S. Department of Health and HumanServices, HHS mandate, religious liberty, religious freedom
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