Anti-Hobby Lobby, anti-RFRA bill defeated
After Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods won from the US Supreme Court, on June 30, relief from compliance with the contraceptives mandate, because the Court ruled that the companies and their owners had religious exercise rights, an effort was launched in Congress to undo the Court’s ruling by requiring for-profit companies to cover contraceptives, no matter their conscience concerns. Rather than devise a way to ensure contraceptives coverage while respecting the religious rights of the employers, the Murray bill would have “solved” the problem by excluding for-profit companies from the free religious exercise protection provided by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)–the law the Court relied on in its Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods decisions.
But RFRA is our nation’s premier law to protect the exercise of religion, a law passed with overwhelming support in and outside of Congress, and proudly signed into law by President Clinton in 1993. None of the several efforts that have been made to narrow the scope of its protection has ever gotten far in Congress.
Fortunately, neither did this bill. In a procedural vote, the Senate decided not to act on the anti-Hobby Lobby, anti-RFRA bill. That should be a great relief to all supporters of religious freedom in the United States.