The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) recently signed an amicus brief written in light of two upcoming Supreme Court cases – one dealing with Hobby Lobby (an arts-and-crafts retailer) and one with Conestoga Wood Specialties (a wood-cabinet manufacturer) – that resulted from the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act and its accompanying Health and Human Services’ mandate. The mandate – which both Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s owners assert violates their religious beliefs – requires nonprofit organizations to include contraception and abortifacients in the “preventative services” section of their companies’ health-care plans.
Amicus briefs are documents relating to a particular court case that are filed by people or organizations not specifically related to the case. The LCMS has been invited to and signed several briefs in past years, and this time, signed alongside such organizations as the Anglican Church in North America, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The amicus brief was one of many. According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, “When the clock struck midnight, 81 briefs flooded in the U.S. Supreme Court, 56 supporting Hobby Lobby and outnumbering the government’s position 2-1.” It was “one of the largest amicus brief filings in Supreme Court history.” The official news release and link to the brief can be found below.
The Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases were also the subject of a recent LCMS webinar that featured Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Matt Bowman, who explained details of the upcoming Supreme Court case, what Lutherans can do to speak out in defense of religious liberty and the importance of rights of conscience. To hear all of Bowman’s conversation, go to lcms.org/freetobefaithful or to http://video.lcms.org/archives/2618. More information will be available in the future on how to participate in the Synod’s Washington, D.C., efforts and the next webinar on March 13, which will delve more deeply into religious-freedom issues.
CHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY NEWS RELEASE
January 28, 2014 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kim Colby, Director, Center for Law & Religious Freedom, (703) 894-1087, firstname.lastname@example.org
RELIGIOUS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES GROUPS URGE SUPREME COURT TO DEFEND RFRA
A coalition of religious and civil liberties organizations, led by the Christian Legal Society, filed a brief today authored by Professor Douglas Laycock in the HHS Mandate cases in the United States Supreme Court in support of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties.
The brief urged the Court to protect all Americans’ religious liberty by accurately interpreting and fully enforcing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). Christian Legal Society and many of the organizations on the brief actively participated in the effort to pass RFRA, which has been the guardian of Americans’ religious freedom for two decades. The brief supports the challenge of three closely-held family businesses to the federal government’s controversial requirement that religious objectors pay for drugs and devices that they believe end human lives.
Professor Laycock is a preeminent religious liberty scholar and the Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is vice president of the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“Religious liberty is among America’s most distinctive contributions to humankind,” remarked David Nammo, Executive Director & CEO of the Christian Legal Society. “But it is fragile and too easily taken for granted. By sharply departing from our nation’s historic, bipartisan tradition of respecting religious conscience, the HHS Mandate poses a grave threat to religious liberty and pluralism.”
Christian Legal Society was joined by nine other religious organizations: American Bible Society, Anglican Church in North America, Association of Christian Schools International, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Prison Fellowship Ministries, and World Vision, Inc.
The Supreme Court will hear the argument in the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, Inc., No. 13-354, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, Inc. v. Sebelius, on March 25, 2014.
The Christian Legal Society is a nationwide association of Christian attorneys, law students, and law professors.
The Christian Legal Society brief is attached and available at http://clsnet.org/document.doc?id=564.