WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Joe Barton (R-Ennis/Arlington) released the following statement about the oral arguments on Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. heard by the Supreme Court Tuesday:

“Today your first amendment right to religious freedom promised in the Constitution was debated in front of the Supreme Court. Hobby Lobby already covers several forms of birth control, but forcing them to pay for drugs or devices that end life after conception is a bridge too far. ObamaCare is forcing family-run, private companies to violate their deeply held beliefs by providing employees with coverage for drugs and devices that end human life after conception. If they don’t – these companies will be forced to pay crippling fines that could force them to lay off workers or close up shop.

“This is flat out wrong! The mandates in ObamaCare use the federal government to violate people’s freedom of conscience and are a radical step toward state-sponsored intolerance.

“I am prolife because I believe that all life is precious and should be respected and I back that up with my vote.

“As a lawmaker, I believe I have a constitutional and moral obligation to protect those who do not have the power to protect themselves.

“I stand with Hobby Lobby as they fight to protect religious freedom for all. We will all be waiting to see if the Supreme Court stands up for the first amendment.”

The Justices aren’t expected to release their ruling until sometime this summer.