WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council (FRC) has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases opposing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The cases involve the HHS mandate that requires businesses run by religious owners to pay for abortion-causing drugs, sterilizations and contraception for their employees, regardless of the owners' religious beliefs.
Erik Jaffe wrote the brief on behalf of FRC. Earlier in his career, Jaffe served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He has filed briefs in dozens of cases before the Supreme Court and written law review articles on topics involving the First Amendment and other constitutional issues. He is a current member and past chairman of the Executive Committee of the Free Speech and Election Law Practice Group of the Federalist Society.
In the brief, Jaffe argues:
"Religious exercise is not confined to the home, to church, or to non-profit activities with expressly religious purposes. Rather, it can be present in all aspects of living one's life faithfully, including the commercial aspects of life. The decision of the businesses in this case to adhere to, and affirmatively advance, the religious principles of their owners and themselves in the operation of their businesses reflects long-held religious tenets regarding the interaction between faith and work."
He later added:
"The suggestion that those who elect to honor God through vocation or faithful dealings in all aspects of life rather than through ordained ministry or exclusively charitable activities face less of a burden from identical government commands simply demeans those who would live their religion in all aspects of the world rather than only in some aspects of or apart from the world."
Jaffe examines the Christian concept of vocation and the Jewish Halacha to illustrate this point.
Of the brief, FRC President Tony Perkins said:
"The freedom of religion is the ability to live your life according to the religious teachings of your choice. However, President Obama has repeatedly expressed his support for the freedom of worship, not the freedom of religion. His HHS mandate is a byproduct of his truncated view of religious liberty and the First Amendment.
"It is a long-held American tradition that we respect people's freedom of conscience. We have never forced Americans who stand up for their conscience to choose between paying crippling fines that could shut down their business or dropping the healthcare of all their employees. President Obama's HHS mandate forces individuals and businesses to violate their moral beliefs just to hold a job, own a business, or have health insurance. Mr. President, this is unacceptable," concluded Perkins