Hobby Lobby case sparks debate over religious freedom law
|By Mark A. Kellner|
On the other hand, in a statement to the
"The fact that five
At least one other Democrat - Sen.
Reaction to even a veiled suggestion of changes to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was quick and strong.
"Changing RFRA because some disagree with one particular application of the law would set a dark precedent by undermining the fundamental principle of religious freedom for all, even for those whose religious beliefs may be unpopular at the moment," said the signers of a joint letter to House Speaker
Some opponents - including a legal scholar and secularist lobby group - of the
RFRA was key to the
After the ruling, critics pounced: RFRA was "never intended to restore anything, was overreaching, and would tip (the scales of justice) in favor of religious believers over all others," said
"Finally, the public is starting to see the essential goal for RFRA is either to discriminate against women (being) able to obtain emergency contraception after rape, for women to obtain all forms of contraception, or to block (equal rights for) gays and same-sex marriage," she said in a telephone interview.
Hamilton, who was a law clerk for Justice
The Freedom From
"None of our civil rights, established after decades and decades of struggle and education, will be safe until RFRA is overturned,"
Signers of the pro-RFRA letter included Bishop
One legal scholar who backs RFRA,
"The anti-RFRA hysteria is totally overblown, because the case was decided on the premise that female employees would get free contraception, without
He added: "The left-right coalition that enacted it agreed on the principle, knowing that they would disagree about specific applications."
However, Lupu, who said he testified against RFRA at a 1992 House subcommittee hearing because he believed the bill "over-restored" religious liberty, asserted RFRA has been trimmed "by various narrow interpretations" in lower federal courts.
"The contraceptive mandate cases represent the first and only socially important and major set of victories for religious exemptions under RFRA," Lupu said. "I suspect that the lower federal courts will find ways to read
Lupu said "it's not necessary to repeal it, because in the future it will do little good and little harm."
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