Marco Rubio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz Respond to Hobby Lobby Decision

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 11, 2014 3:55 AM
Marco Rubio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Marco Rubio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

In the aftermath of Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the federal government which led to the Supreme Court ruling at the end of last month, that business owners can object for religious reasons to being forced to cover birth control due to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law, two prominent members of the Florida delegation started to craft responses to it this week.

Noting how close the Supreme Court decision was, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is gathering petitions to protect religious freedom.  Rubio, who is a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, is using his Reclaim America PAC to gather the petitions demanding religious freedom.

“The First Amendment is pretty simple. Congress cannot make laws infringing upon our exercise of religion," Rubio emailed supporters on Tuesday. “It's a cornerstone of our American way of life, despite the left only respecting it when it suits their political purposes. No person should be forced by the government to violate their faith.”

Rubio also wrote to Obama this week on another religious freedom matter, urging the president to fill the U.S. Department of State’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom which has been vacant for nine months. Back in April, Rubio urged Obama to fill the position but his letter went unanswered.

Noting the recent incident involving Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese woman who faced the death penalty due to her conversion to Christianity, Rubio insisted the position filled needs and should be filled quickly.

“In order to display the United States’ dedication to religious freedom, we must have an ambassador-at-large in place to lead our efforts to protect and promote religious freedom,” Rubio write Obama on Wednesday.

On the other side of the aisle, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), showcased the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014.” The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., would stop for-profit companies from invoking religious beliefs to deny contraception to employees.
“The Supreme Court’s decision in these cases effectively said that the religious preferences of employers trump the personal health rights and decisions of employees, and congressional Democrats believe this posture is not only legally weak, but a gross intrusion into the personal lives of women and families,” Wasserman Schultz said on Wednesday. “This bill reaffirms what we know to be true, that employers don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices, or pharmacies of their employees.”
The bill has almost no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House. 

In the meantime, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and the Pro-Choice Caucus are backing the “Not My Boss’ Business Act," which would also look to prevent companies from using religious beliefs to deny contraception while ensuring religious employers would be allowed to.

“Despite what the Supreme Court seems to think, life does not begin at incorporation. Employers belong in the workplace, not in a doctor's office,” said Frankel on Wednesday. “A woman’s family planning decisions are not her boss’ business.”

Rubio’s camp fired back Thursday as Terry Sullivan from Reclaim America ripped into “Harry Reid and his extreme liberal colleagues” for trying to overturn the decision.

“Democratic senators are fast-tracking legislation to circumvent the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision and override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Sullivan insisted. “Your religious freedoms are at risk from liberals who won’t stop until government can control your life."

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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