Press Release

January 28, 2014
Cardin Joins Amicus Brief to Defend the Rights of Women in SCOTUS Case

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and 18 of his colleagues filed an amicus brief in support of the government’s position in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. The brief provides an authoritative account of the legislative history and intent underlying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Senators urge the Supreme Court to reverse the Tenth Circuit’s expansion of RFRA’s scope and purpose as applied to secular, for-profit corporations and their shareholders seeking to evade the contraceptive-coverage requirement under the ACA. 


“The Affordable Care Act guarantees the majority of women access to comprehensive preventive health care and screenings, and coverage for contraception and contraceptive counseling.  These provisions will help reduce unwanted pregnancies and protect women’s health. Whether or not a woman uses contraception should be a private decision not subject to a veto by a woman’s employer,” said Senator Cardin. “The Supreme Court must end this slippery slope of granting fundamental civil rights to companies and for-profit entities that the Constitution and Congress intended for the protection of individual freedoms.”


As Members of Congress at the time of RFRA’s debate and passage, Senator Cardin and the other signatories are uniquely situated to explain the legislative intent underlying RFRA— including that RFRA’s conscious clause does not apply to for-profit corporations.  Similarly, as Members of Congress during the debate and passage of the ACA, the Senators are most qualified to explain how exempting secular, for-profit corporations from the ACA’s contraceptive-coverage requirement is inconsistent with the plain language and legislative intent of RFRA, and undermines the government’s compelling interest in providing women access to preventive health care under the ACA, including contraceptive-coverage.   


Senator Cardin is joined in the brief by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), as well as Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).