A Win for Religious Freedom

July 10, 2020
Weekly Columns

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These opening words of the First Amendment are foundational to American law and society. As a congressman, it’s my constitutional duty to oppose any law that would infringe on an American’s right to practice their religion. For this reason, I was pleased to see the Supreme Court rule in favor of religious liberty in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor vs. Pennsylvania.

The facts of the case: under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandated that employers must offer health insurance plans that cover at least some contraceptive costs. The only ones excluded from this rule were churches and nonprofit religious groups (for-profit religious groups and religious schools were still under the mandate). This led to the case of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, when the Supreme Court created a new exception to the ACA in which for-profit religious organizations could outline their moral objections to the mandate in a special form to HHS. The Little Sisters of the Poor later based their case on the Trump administration’s conscience-based objection rule, asking that their moral and religious objections allow them to be exempted from the ACA mandate. On Wednesday, July 8, the Supreme Court ruled in their favor in a 7-2 decision.

At its core, this was a case about religious freedom. Should the federal government force a private, religious organization to provide a good or service that goes against their moral convictions? The answer is no, according to our Constitution. I signed on to an amicus brief earlier this year supporting the Little Sisters of the Poor and asking the Supreme Court to rule on their behalf, so I am glad to see the justices supporting the free exercise of religion.