Statement by the Connecticut Catholic Conference
United States Supreme Court Upholds Religious Freedom -
Contraceptive Mandate on Family Owned Businesses
Found to be in Violation of Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act
The Connecticut Catholic Conference welcomes the decision of the United States Supreme Court which upholds the position of the Hobby-Lobby Stores and the Conestoga Wood Specialties in their prolonged battle with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Court's ruling supports the convictions of the two business owners who refused to abide by the HSS mandate based upon their religious beliefs.
The Conference notes that, since 1919, the Catholic Church has been a longstanding advocate of universal, accessible and life-affirming health care. However, the HHS mandate of the Affordable Care Act harshly penalizes those employers who do not provide abortions and other contraception coverage for their employees. In its decision, the Court clearly reaffirms that freedom of religion is a basic fundamental right under our Constitution.
This ruling applies only to closely controlled businesses that object to the mandate based upon religious grounds, as the Court found that this mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
The impact of this ruling on numerous court cases filed by religiously affiliated non-profits is yet to be determined. The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, acknowledged the narrowness of this decision by stating that "The Court clearly did not decide whether the so-called 'accommodation' violates RFRA when applied to our charities, hospitals and schools, so many of which have challenged it as a burden on their religious exercise. We continue to hope that these great ministries of service, like the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others, will prevail in their cases as well."