February 01,2013

Press Contact:

Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, 202.224.4515

Hatch Says Obama Administration’s Refusal to Give Conscience Protections to Employers Violates Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Utah Senator Says Confident Courts Will Overturn Administration Policy that Undermines Constitutional Religious Liberty

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee and a former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today said that a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decision requiring employers to provide health care services in violation of their faith should be overturned by the courts, because it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that Hatch helped push through the Congress on a bipartisan basis.

“This is a sad day.  Freedom of religion and the right of peoples of faith to be protected against government intrusion must be sacrosanct,” said Hatch.  “Unfortunately, this White House doesn’t seem to believe in that Constitutional guarantee - forcing private companies to provide health care services in violation of their beliefs.  I’m confident, however, that this misguided policy will be overturned by the courts as I believe it is in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

In 1993, the RFRA was passed unanimously by the House and by a vote of 97-3 in the Senate and was signed into law by President Clinton.  It states that the government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless its action is “the least restrictive means of furthering [a] compelling governmental interest.”  

Hatch is leading a group of Senators who supported RFRA in a friend of the court brief to be filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit arguing that the HHS mandate violates RFRA.  That lawsuit is being brought by the owners of a private company.  This proposed revision of the mandate would not apply to private companies so the defect is the same.