After calling the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case “certainly the worst in the last 25 years,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced on Thursday that the Senate will take up the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act next week.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO), would prohibit employers from using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) or any other federal law to keep their employees from accessing health-care coverage guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act.
Reid and others continued with the theme from yesterday that the Supreme Court gravely misinterpreted RFRA by using it to grant corporations religious rights.
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“It is a horrible decision,” Reid said, adding that he was “disappointed” in Chief Justice John Roberts and felt the justice had “misdirected” senators during his confirmation hearings about whether he supported constitutional privacy rights.
“As the author of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I can say with absolute certainty the Supreme Court got the Hobby Lobby case dead wrong,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). The point of the law was to protect the religious freedoms of individuals from government interference, Schumer said, and people who are born into or convert to a religion are nothing like for-profit corporations that form voluntarily and benefit from the marketplace under U.S. laws.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) called Hobby Lobby a “direct violation” of the right to privacy granted by the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, which struck down laws prohibiting the sale of birth control.
Asked by a reporter whether the introduction of the bill was politically motivated, especially given Udall’s tough re-election fight, Reid noted Udall’s “exemplary record” on women’s health and said, “It would be political malpractice if we did not react the way we did dealing with this horrible decision.”