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GOP Forced To Walk Thin Line After Hobby Lobby Ruling

Memo Pad Politics

GOP Forced To Walk Thin Line After Hobby Lobby Ruling


The Supreme Court officially adjourned for the summer on Monday, but not before bestowing Republicans with a double-edged sword in the form of a major ruling.

The Court’s 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby struck down a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that had required employer-provided health care to include contraception coverage for women, even if the employer objected to birth control on the basis of religion. Republicans hailed the decision as a victory for religious freedom and the Republican National Committee released a statement thanking the Court for ruling “on the side of liberty.”

For the GOP, the Hobby Lobby decision does present some cause for celebration: The ruling calls attention to religious freedom — a cause touted by the right — and serves as ammunition for Republicans who claim that Obamacare is a flawed and oppressive law.

However, the Court’s ruling also serves as a reminder of just how cautiously the GOP must tread when speaking on any issue in a social and cultural context. In 2012, Republicans paid a heavy price for their increasingly militant and unpopular positions on social issues, and in 2014 they cannot afford to speak too loudly on social issues just months ahead of midterm elections.

As a Democracy Corps analysis pointed out in February, 2012, the public has long disagreed with Republicans on contraception and Planned Parenthood funding. According to the survey, voters “wonder why at a time of great economic distress, Republicans are consumed with denying birth control coverage for women.” With the Hobby Lobby ruling dominating the news, the GOP must again confront contraception and women’s access to health care services, among other social issues — ones on which women and young voters tend to side with Democrats.

Voters have not shifted towards the Republican point of view on the issue. Just one day before the Supreme Court released its Hobby Lobby decision, Reuters revealed the findings of a new Reuters/Ipsos poll: When asked “whether employers should be able to choose what forms of contraceptives their health plans provide based on their religious beliefs,” 53 percent of Americans disagreed — and only 35 percent agreed.

A Gallup poll released in May similarly found that a massive 89 percent of Americans — including 88 percent of Republicans — say that the use of birth control is morally acceptable.

Recognizing public support for contraception methods, the GOP must make sure that its praise for the Hobby Lobby ruling does not translate into anti-contraception or anti-women’s rights cheers. But early returns suggest that controlling politicians’ reactions to the decision might prove difficult.

On Monday, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) agreed with Andrew Wilkow, host of Sirius XM’s The Wilkow Majority, that women use contraception to protect themselves from “recreational behavior.” Meanwhile, Karl Rove made sure to remind America that the true issue concerns women’s access to birth control and abortion, telling Fox News’ America’s Newsroom that the “country is becoming more pro-life.”

“Should somebody be forced to violate their moral beliefs by having to pay for something they believe causes an abortion?” Rove asked.

Along with having to rein in the jolliest of the right, the GOP must also now fend off attacks from Democrats who say that Republicans’ response to the Court’s decision proves the GOP platform is anti-women. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already attacked Republican Senate candidates who would support “radical, anti-woman measures that would go even further than today’s decision.” The DSCC specifically called out GOP Senate hopefuls “including Cory Gardner (CO), Joni Ernst (IA), Thom Tillis (NC), [and] Terri Lynn Land (MI)” for supporting policies that could “outlaw popular forms of birth control” — an attack that will surely be repeated throughout the remainder of the midterm campaigns.

Photo: Afagen via Flickr


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  1. Sand_Cat July 1, 2014

    The GOP has nothing to do with religious freedom, and everything to do with accusing others of violating it because they object to having Christianity given the force of law.

  2. Dominick Vila July 2, 2014

    Since when is denying a majority of Americans access to contraceptives via their corporate-sponsored health insurance plans a manifestation of liberty? Denying people – especially the majority – the right to exercise their wishes without government interference is the ultimate expression of tyranny, and that is exactly what the not so Supreme Court just did.
    Nobody was forcing fellow citizens who oppose the use of contraceptives to use them. What is clear now is that the beliefs of a minority of Americans have been imposed on the majority, regardless of how we feel about it.
    This is not liberty or democracy, this is tyrannical ruling by people who don’t have the slightest idea of what democracy is all about, and who could care less what most of us want or need.

    1. TZToronto July 2, 2014

      Not only do they not have an idea of what democracy is, but they also have no idea of what biology is, when life begins, how birth control works, or what other uses oral contraceptives have.

    2. elw July 2, 2014

      Well said and MOST people in this Country would total agree with you. Five men should never be able to make a decision about anything that affect every woman in this Country. Never.

    3. 1standlastword July 2, 2014

      Dominick. I think the goal is for the PPACA to die the death of one thousand cuts. Already the insurance companies are primed to jack up policies 10 to 15 percent starting January

      I think the insurance companies are enacting a bait and switch policy of the government funds…our tax dollars!

      Everybody in the corporate world LOVES a client government!

      Bush understood this

    4. Allan Richardson July 2, 2014

      I wonder how those Republicans would react if their OWN WIVES said, since they were out of birth control pills, and did not want to get pregnant right now, they would refuse their hubbies any “recreational behavior?” Oh right, first choice would be to go to their mistresses, and second choice would be to rape their wives and claim the Bible told them it was OK.

      1. Dominick Vila July 2, 2014

        Considering our low fertility rate (1.89) I think it is fair to assume that both Republicans and Democrats use contraceptives. The real targets of the latest SCOTUS decision are the “evil” poor women who cannot afford to buy them.

  3. Jambi July 2, 2014

    Freedom FROM religion works better than Freedom OF religion

    1. 1standlastword July 2, 2014

      AMEN Brother…LOL!!!!!

  4. latebloomingrandma July 2, 2014

    I take issue with Rove’s statement that the country is becoming more pro-life. If we were, there would be decisions on sensible gun laws to control the slaughter, less clamoring for more war, and more outpouring of humanitarian action concerning the refugee children who came across the border. And we would already have a comprehensive immigration law. So lets’s call it what it is. A small, but loud and activist portion of the population are zealously anti-abortion.

    1. elw July 2, 2014

      Since you are a grandma, you know that they have always claimed that no matter how many times they have lost on this issue. When it comes to their beliefs, they are blind, deaf, and do not read the writing on the wall.

    2. 1standlastword July 2, 2014

      Or…the establishments’ addiction to disaster capitalism by promoting war i.e. the military complex. This ruling was a tossing of the proverbial bone to the social conservative faction of the current schizophrenic GOP…the 5 faces of Sybil

    3. Dominick Vila July 2, 2014

      …and the fertility rate would not be 1.89…

  5. mah101 July 2, 2014

    My belief is that money is the root of all evil. If I owned a corporation, why should I have to foster evil by paying my employees? Isn’t loaves and fishes good enough?

    1. Paul Bass July 2, 2014

      I’m afraid the trolls will take your sarcasm seriously!

    2. charleo1 July 2, 2014

      Actually the entire loves, and fishes parable, according to current
      Religious Right dogma, violates the moral hazard of dolling out
      an unearned, gratuity to the masses. Who were these free loaders
      anyhow? And what were they doing just hanging out in the middle
      of the day, listening to Jesus? When they obviously ought to have
      been working, or they wouldn’t have been hungry in the first place. And Jesus, what was He doing, but making them dependent, and buying their loyalty with free stuff? No Sir! The Evangelicals have decided their religion can no longer afford to have within it’s ranks such flaming Socialists as Jesus Christ. Better to worship such Atheist as Ayn Rand.

  6. 1standlastword July 2, 2014

    When Mr. Green’s manhood goes limp will he support insurance provisions for male impotency in the form of Viagra or Cialis? And would such a treatment be considered for the purpose of recreational sex to the demented republican senator, from Utah Mr. Lee?
    As a male, I HATE to be a victim!!!! And because I hate so much being a victim I consciously resist victimizing others. I recommend ALL non-Christians to withhold patronage from Hobby Lobby because to continue to do patronage is to allow yourselves to be fed to the religious lions that want to consume your freedom to do what you deem right for your own body that completely involves your own body!
    Let’s see how long Hobby Lobby can stay viable without heathen monetary support!!!

    1. plc97477 July 3, 2014

      I refuse to shop anywhere that treats their employees badly and this is one of the worst I have seen. I will not enter a hobby lobby ever again.

  7. elw July 2, 2014

    Has the Right gone too far? They have not been doing well with women for many voting cycles, they have lost the Hispanic and Black vote, many of their more moderate members have left their party so they past the “too far” line long ago. The Right has no idea what winning means and will continue to leave themselves behind until they fade from sight. The Supreme Court decision is another thing that will come back to bring shame to a set of Justices that have proven over and over again that they are not fit for their seats. I will point out that the Hobby Lobby decision was men against the women with all five of the men on the bench voting yes and all the women voting no. That right there tell you how this very Right-wing subject will affect the next election. It is a stupid decision that has not taken the future affects of it into consideration – the decision was based on personal religious beliefs and not the law. Shame on those Justices that voted yes.

  8. ExRadioGuy15 July 2, 2014

    “Will Republicans try to overreach because of the Hobby Lobby decision?”
    The answer to that question is, “they already have”, both in supporting the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga cases for personhood of companies and corporations and their logically fallacious support for the cowardly decision.

  9. howa4x July 2, 2014

    This is a case about the tyranny of the minority not the majority. It shows that republicans wear the mantel of the American tealiban very well. It is more a type of Sharia law than democracy. It typifies the republican obsession with non marital sex, like reliving the apple scene in the garden of Eden over and over constantly blaming women for their lustful behavior but never the men who lust after them. Why have insurance plans cover Viagra a drug made for sexual enhancement and not allow women to protect themselves.
    So instead of voting for a jobs bill, or immigration reform, or an infrastructure program this is where they pant their flag. This is a case of constantly doubling down on minority of a minority party and constantly appealing to their cultural values while ignoring majority opinion. If you ever wanted women to get aroused about an issue this is it.

    1. Allan Richardson July 2, 2014

      And if Muslims buy up enough shares to take control of a major American corporation, THEY will impose Sharia Law on their employees (privatizing religious establishment to get around that First Amendment not allowing government to do it).

      And they were worried that OBAMA would impose Sharia Law? How about the “new” Walmart or Target after a hostile takeover by Prince Bandar?

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