By Elise Viebeck - 03/24/14 05:53 PM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called ObamaCare's birth control mandate a "terrible burden" on religious Americans and urged the Supreme Court to reverse it on the eve of oral arguments Monday.
"This case concerns every American who cherishes that first line in the Bill of Rights where it states our government will never come between us and our faith," Boehner said in a statement Monday.
The call reflects broad opposition to the birth control policy among House Republicans, who voted in September 2013 to allow employers to opt out of providing healthcare coverage they find morally objectionable.
Under the mandate, which passed as part of the healthcare law, most employers must provide access to a range of birth control methods in their workers' health coverage.
Churches and houses of worship are exempt, and employees of religiously affiliated organizations can obtain birth control directly from their insurance company under an arrangement crafted by the Obama administration.
This much-criticized accommodation leaves out for-profit companies with religious owners who object to birth control. Challenges from two such businesses were consolidated into one case that will be heard at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The firms cite both the First Amendment’s free exercise clause and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which provides that, “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”
In defense of the mandate, the government argues that corporations are not people and, therefore, are not are not afforded free exercise rights.
—Ben Goad contributed.