Congress thrusts itself into ‘birth control mandate’ court fight

Congressional lawmakers are filing competing briefs Tuesday in the Supreme Court case over ObamaCare’s contentious contraception mandate.

Nearly three dozen members of the House and Senate are attaching their names to formal amicus or “friend of the court” briefs before the justices hear arguments in the case next month.

The case centers on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s provision requiring that workers be offered free contraceptive services as part of their employers' insurance coverage.

The regulation has spawned scores of lawsuits, including a challenge brought by Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned craft chain that objects to the provision on religious grounds.

The Supreme Court agreed late last year to hear the Hobby Lobby case, which will be the first involving ObamaCare to reach the justices since they deemed the law’s individual mandate constitutional 17 months ago.

On Tuesday, 15 Republican members of the Senate and House filed a formal brief arguing that the contraception mandate violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Leading the GOP push is Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchRead Senate GOP's tax bill Senate panel to start tax bill markup on Monday Senate set for clash with House on tax bill MORE (R-Utah), who issued a statement Tuesday arguing that the Obama administration “continues to trample on the religious freedoms Americans hold dear.”

“Religious freedom should not be a political issue,” Hatch said. “It is one of our country’s founding principles, and I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court will reconfirm that our country will not stand for forcing one’s beliefs onto others who may morally object to them.”

Meanwhile, a group of 19 Senate Democrats led by Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayA bipartisan bridge opens between the House and Senate Overnight Health Care: ObamaCare sign-ups surge in early days Collins, Manchin to serve as No Labels co-chairs MORE (D-Wash.) said Tuesday they would file their own brief contending that the RFRA never intended to extend “free-exercise” rights to for-profit companies.

“What’s at stake in this case before the Supreme Court is whether a CEO’s personal beliefs can trump a woman’s right to access free or low-cost contraception under the Affordable Care Act,” Murray said in remarks prepared for a speech Tuesday on the Senate floor.

The court has scheduled arguments in the case for March 25.