WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Zubik v. Burwell, two of FRC's legal experts were present in the Courtroom to listen as attorneys for each side were challenged by the Justices.
Zubick v. Burwell was consolidated with six other cases (including Little Sisters of the Poor) with dozens of plaintiffs between them. All of these religious non-profits object to being forced by the HHS mandate to violate their faith-based principles by providing contraception, sterilization, and drugs and devices that can kill an embryo. They have brought claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and have asked the Supreme Court to protect them since their sincere religious beliefs have been substantially burdened. Meanwhile, the government has tried to show that it is advancing a compelling interest with its HHS mandate and is doing so through the least restrictive means possible.
Family Research Council attorneys Cathy Ruse, Senior Legal Fellow and former chief counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, and Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, were in the Courtroom during oral arguments. Both are graduates of Georgetown University Law Center.
Following oral arguments, Ruse made the following comments:
"Sitting in the courtroom today made me realize the extent of the Obama Administration's hostility toward people of faith. When the Chief Justice asked the Solicitor General whether he believed even churches could be forced to sign the form and follow the mandate against their sincere beliefs, Attorney General Verilli answered, 'Yes.' This is what the future may hold if Justice Scalia's replacement agrees with the Obama Administration."
Weber also commented after hearing the oral arguments:
"In court today, the government was hard-pressed to show it had a compelling interest which it was advancing by the least restrictive means. In addition, to rule for the Obama administration in this case, the Court would be signing off on the idea that the government can judge matters of religious doctrine sufficiently to determine whether they have been substantially burdened. That's not the American way and it's not what Americans want."