TIME 2014 Election

Parties Look for Political Edge in Supreme Court Contraception Ruling

Supreme Court Hobby Lobby
Lori Windham (C), senior counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, addresses the news media in front of the Supreme Court after the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores June 30, 2014 in Washington. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

How Hobby Lobby plays into both party’s 2014 election push

Republicans and Democrats wasted no time Monday looking for a political advantage in the Supreme Court’s ruling that a Christian arts and crafts company doesn’t have to comply with the employer mandate to provide contraception coverage in President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.

The decision could have far-reaching consequences for November’s midterm elections, and given its potency to rile up base voters in both parties, it could echo on the campaign trail for the final four months of the campaign. Democrats and pro-abortion rights groups used the decision as an example that Republicans are indeed waging a war on women—one that reaches far beyond verbal fumbles on rape and abortion. “Today’s Supreme Court decision is a stark reminder of how important it is for Democrats to keep hold of the Senate,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, a group that works to elect pro-choice women. “When the future of our judiciary branch and women’s access to healthcare is at stake we need every woman to get out and vote in November.”

Republicans held the decision up as a victory for religious freedom, and a strike against Obamacare. “Today’s decision is a victory for religious freedom and another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “The President’s health care law remains an unworkable mess and a drag on our economy. We must repeal it and enact better solutions that start with lowering Americans’ health care costs.”

They also pointed to polls showing that a majority of Americans do not support the government forcing companies to provide free family planning. A poll conducted for the conservative Family Research Council last month found that 53% of Americans, including 50% of women and 50% of Hispanics, opposed forcing companies to provide such coverage while 43% support such a move.

But Democrats are betting the midterm elections will be all about the women’s vote and that Monday’s ruling will not play well with female voters. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama “believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves rather than their bosses deciding for them,” emphasizing that the decision would “jeopardize the health of women.”

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz pursued the same theme. “This decision takes money out of the pockets of women and their families and allows for-profit employers to deny access to certain health care benefits based on their personal beliefs,” she said. “Nearly 60% of women who use birth control do so for more than just family planning.”

 

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