WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today applauding House passage of H.J. Res. 43:
“America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and faith-based employers deserve the ability to hire people who share their beliefs. The measure passed by the D.C. Council, however, discriminates against religious and pro-life Americans, violates their conscience rights, and runs completely counter to the ‘free exercise’ clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. As a proud pro-life Catholic, I condemn this form of discrimination and urge the president to reconsider his veto threat of our joint resolution.”
NOTE: Under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has direct oversight of the District of Columbia. Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, Congress has the authority to review – and disapprove – all policies passed by the District of Columbia City Council and signed by the District of Columbia Mayor.
In December, then-Mayor Vincent Gray urged the City Council to postpone voting on the so-called Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) “until significant legal concerns … are resolved.” Gray, a Democrat, wrote that:
“the bill raises serious concerns under the Constitution and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). Religious organizations, religiously-affiliated organizations, religiously-driven for-profit entities, and political organizations may have strong First Amendment and RFRA grounds for challenging the law's applicability to them. Moreover, to the extent that some of the bill's language protects only one sex's reproductive health decisions, that language may run afoul of the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantee. … While I applaud the goals of this legislation, as currently drafted, this legislation is legally problematic.”