Democrats plan on making Hobby Lobby their midterm message

posted at 12:41 pm on July 10, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

So says Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn, but color me skeptical. Not of Haberkorn’s reporting on the subject, which accurately takes the temperature of the rhetoric from the Left, but of the bravado coming from Capitol Hill Democrats in the dog days of July. Democrats claim they want to make a midterm fight over a relatively narrow Supreme Court decision that doesn’t restrict access to contraception in any way as a means to fire up their “war on women” rhetoric and turn out their base in what looks like a dismal election cycle:

With an eye on the November elections, congressional Democrats on Wednesday introduced a bill that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby contraception decision.

Democrats and women’s health groups believe they have a powerful campaign weapon in pushing back on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that Hobby Lobby and other closely held for-profit companies don’t have to comply with the health law’s contraceptive coverage requirement if it violates the owners’ religious beliefs.

The bill was drafted by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a longtime women’s health advocate, and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who is up for reelection this year. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat up for reelection in Alaska, joined them at the press conference to release the bill. …

They’re framing it as the court allowing gender discrimination and putting bosses in charge of personal health decisions to use contraception, even when medicine is prescribed for nonreproductive reasons, such as to treat endometriosis. And they want to make sure Republicans have to answer whether they support it.

Well, that should be a pretty easy answer, for reasons which I’ll get to in a moment. First, Gabriel Malor points out a huge dose of hypocrisy in this effort by reminding readers that Democrats in Congress refused to address the RFRA issue during the ObamaCare debate. At that time, Democrats scoffed at suggestions that the ACA would infringe on religious expression, and avoided including goals like the contraception mandate in the statutes to maintain that illusion:

This is what Democrats were too scared to include in the original Obamacare bill. Remember, they didn’t want the Obamacare bill to be an “abortion” bill or a bill trampling religious rights, so they left this stuff out, leaving it up to HHS to implement the contraception and abortifacient coverage via regulation. Obviously, that doesn’t fly anymore because the Supreme Court has recognized that neither Obamacare nor the HHS regulations implementing it were exempt from RFRA.

Democrats got a lot more comfortable with the “War on Women” meme during the Romney campaign. They’ll be plenty happy to push this loser of a bill during election season.

Actually, I’d say they’re happy to talk about it now, as long as it’s only talk and only for a limited period of time. Gabriel gives a hint as to why as he explains that Democrats really are amending and partially repealing the very popular RFRA, even while they claim not to be doing so:

Also, while I’m covering things that are misleading, the Democrats proposing this bill insist that it does not amend RFRA. (See also my conversation with Sahil Kapur). But, of course it does.

The legislation, according to Kapur “clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the basis for the Supreme Court’s ruling against the mandate, doesn’t permit businesses to opt out of laws they may object to.”

I know that words are hard for Democrats (see the subsidies lawsuits), but by “clarifying” that RFRA does not apply to businesses they are altering RFRA, which at the moment does apply to businesses. By which I mean, of course they’re “amending RFRA.” They just don’t want to admit it because the other way of putting it would be to say Democrats are trying to repeal part of RFRA. “Senator, please explain your vote against religious freedom,” is not something even Democrats are comfortable being asked.

Exactly. This bill will end up looking like a new endorsement of ObamaCare, and even more an endorsement of mandates that will conflict with individual liberties in a profound manner — as even the Supreme Court found. That may play well in deep-blue states, but that’s not the problem facing Senate Democrats in November. In my column for The Fiscal Times, I ask just how far Senate Democrats are willing to go in walking even farther into the ObamaCare/big government trap in the midterm cycle:

It attempts to restore a mandate that actually wasn’t included in the law itself, but was created as a regulation without any vote in Congress. Where the RFRA was a highly popular attempt to protect and expand the ability to defend religious expression – it passed unanimously in the House and 97-3 in the Senate, both controlled at the time by Democrats – the effect of this amendment will be to limit religious expression, which won’t endear Democrats to voters of faith in any sense.

Democratic incumbents in the Senate already face long odds in the upcoming midterm elections, largely because of ObamaCare and the unintended consequences of its rollout and control of the health-insurance market. Reid now wants them to cast a vote to limit religious conscience objections for products that are so widely available that the CDC couldn’t detect any access issues, in what will be seen as another endorsement of the unpopular ACA.

That will come either just before a new round of price hikes gets announced, or at the same time, just weeks ahead of the midterms – price hikes that have the White House so worried that their team has already begun the spin effort to deflect attention. On top of all this, Reid wants them to expose themselves to considerable voter backlash in purple and red states for a bill that has zero chance of becoming law.

Perhaps Harry Reid might convince these vulnerable Senate Democrats to go all in on a futile endorsement of Obamacare, bureaucratic arrogance, and restrictions on religious expression ahead of facing the voters. They may instead think back to what motivated the RFRA twenty-one years ago, and wonder what Harry Reid is smoking.

Good luck with that strategy, red-state Democrats.

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Comment pages: 1 2

Athos on July 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Never mind him, he hates the First Amendment.

Buck Farky on July 10, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Call Reid’s bluff… it won’t pass.

The vote on the Blunt Amendment was 51-48. Even Collins voted for religious liberty then. Only Snowe voted with the Democrats. Casey and Manchin both voted with Republicans on that measure. Add in the Red State Democrats up for re-election and Donnelly.

Harry will never call this up for a floor vote if called out on this.

blammm on July 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Somehow it’s legit to vote on firearm issues, but let a woman vote based upon which party best serves her reproductive health, and suddenly she’s “brainwashed.” Amazingly, the same people who claim to be pro-life tend not to care all that much about the affordable delivery of services that facilitate healthy pregnancies and childraising. But whatever. It’s all about telling coeds to “put an aspirin between the knee” right?

libfreeordie on July 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM


Resist We Much on July 10, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Amazingly, the same people who claim to be pro-life tend not to care all that much about the affordable delivery of services that facilitate healthy pregnancies and childraising.

libfreeordie on July 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM

What that has to do with contraception and abortifacients is anybody’s guess.

Bitter Clinger on July 10, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Harry will never call this up for a floor vote if called out on this.

blammm on July 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Of course not. This whole thing is to gin up their base and fund raise off of. It’ll never be brought to the floor.

Bitter Clinger on July 10, 2014 at 2:25 PM

BLACK PROTESTERS in Murrieta Confront Pro-Illegal Immigrant Supporters

Houston BLACK WOMAN goes on EPIC rant about unaccompanied illegals – “Why can’t they go back?”

This is getting better and better.

Of course, liveenslavedthendie will say:

White BLACK liberals really do ruin everything.

libfreeordie on September 7, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Resist We Much on July 10, 2014 at 2:39 PM


Resist We Much on July 10, 2014 at 2:22 PM

I know, right?

What a jackass.

Buck Farky on July 10, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Somehow it’s legit to vote on firearm issues…
libfreeordie on July 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM


And gay marriage.


Oh. Nevermind.

You got it!

Wow. Your predecessor was much better at this than you.
(Worse still considering he was shockingly bad at it.)

Did you mean to make such a good point about courts having to rule on Reid’s obviously bumbling and poorly written and constitutional-scholarly passed Obamacare legislation that is completely responsible for Hobby Lobby doing such horrible and sexist things?
Thanks if so. And if not, I suppose.
rogerb on July 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM

I always forget that in the conservative imagination, corporations can never be held accountable for their behavior.

The behavior that was legal and absolutely socially acceptable before Obamacare was passed? Great point, thanks for making it.

Everything they do that we don’t like is entirely because government regulation somehow forced them.

You do realize the Supreme Court doesn’t just let people drop in for a quick chat on interesting legal matters, right?
Reid and constitutional scholar/first black president of the Harvard Law Review Barack Obama wrote and passed the law encouraging Hobby Lobby to discuss it with them. Or do you think someone else is responsible for the law Hobby Lobby is fully adhering to now?

*clasps hands in prayer*
Oh benevolent corporate Deities, forgive my challenge of your supreme control over our hearts and minds. Can I still get a new Ipod for Christmas?
libfreeordie on July 10, 2014 at 2:04 PM

The funniest part is when you realize that you, through your support of the legislation and the way the law was written and passed, are responsible for more women being denied birth control than the combined misogynistic conservatives here.
And that’s absolutely hilarious.

rogerb on July 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

I suppose fascismordie is too preoccupied with the derailing of the ‘The Beast’…..

Athos on July 10, 2014 at 2:52 PM

I suppose fascismordie is too preoccupied with the derailing of the ‘The Beast’…..

Athos on July 10, 2014 at 2:52 PM

The obamaExpress

Schadenfreude on July 10, 2014 at 3:06 PM

“We’ve got what it takes to take what you’ve got.”

Up to and including your freedom/life.

Perspicacious on July 10, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat up for reelection in Alaska, joined them at the press conference to release the bill. …

I wouldn’t think this will be too popular in Alaska. Whoever wins the primary needs to make this a huge issue.

cat_owner on July 10, 2014 at 3:48 PM

And that’s absolutely hilarious.

rogerb on July 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

; )

Bmore on July 10, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Throw in some gun-control and I think they have a winning platform!!

HumpBot Salvation on July 10, 2014 at 4:20 PM

For Irony Fans
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 was introduced by Schumer, passed by a congress controlled by the Democrat party in both houses, and signed by President Clinton. It was passed because some Native American lost some sort of government benefits because he used peyote religiously. This could not stand. In order to restore the benefits Schumer, as Fidei defensor, drafted and introduced a bill with the below stated findings and purposes. The Native American got his benefits and back pay.


(a) Findings
The Congress finds that—
(1) the framers of the Constitution, recognizing free exercise of religion as an unalienable right, secured its protection in the First Amendment to the Constitution;
(2) laws “neutral” toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise;
(3) governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification;
(4) in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) the Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement that the government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws neutral toward religion; and
(5) the compelling interest test as set forth in prior Federal court rulings is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing prior governmental interests.

(b) Purposes
The purposes of this chapter are—
(1) to restore the compelling interest test as set forth in Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) and Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972) and to guarantee its application in all cases where free exercise of religion is substantially burdened; and
(2) to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.


But Schumer, F.D., was not really defending anybody’s faith, rather he was just defending the right to use drugs while on the dole.

ShadrachSmith on July 10, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Harry Reid probably has Dementia and will be committed after the Democrats lose the Senate

HAGGS99 on July 10, 2014 at 6:53 PM

I think this a winning strategy. I think the Dems should run with it… and run hard…. every day…. until November.

307wolverine on July 10, 2014 at 6:58 PM

How idiotic would that be? It’s not like they can overturn the SCOTUS decision.

jimver on July 10, 2014 at 7:21 PM

But hey, suit yourselves, leftards. The more seats u lose, the better.

jimver on July 10, 2014 at 7:22 PM

How idiotic would that be? It’s not like they can overturn the SCOTUS decision.

jimver on July 10, 2014 at 7:21 PM

They don’t have to. SCOTUS ruled on RFRA. The Freedom Act of Religious Takebacks would be the current Congress’ version of that, so it’s more like a revision. They would just add some new wrinkle that results in a new HHS dictat and FART would dictate the Hobby Lobby has to pay for abortifacients.

Axeman on July 10, 2014 at 7:28 PM

The democrats know they have Pravda and Izvestia so why shouldn’t they plan on accomplishing another coupe and win the 2014 election. I was recently chided by a family member, “If Republicans are so right, why can’t they win and election.” When you really believe they’re being stolen, it’s really difficult to respond to that. I understand how difficult it is to win an election when you don’t have the press. It’s not just not having the press, it’s having the press willing to repeat all the lies being told about you.

Right now, the Democrats are slamming Republicans on a daily basis. The war on women, being against people who don’t look like them, for being racist, etc. and the Republicans are not fighting back. The thing is, you have to take Obama’s tactics seriously. When people come after you, go after them twice as hard. When the Democrats talk about the war on women, start pointing out all the women they’re willing to trash and how your party has trashed none. When they want to talk about racist, start saying that “What is more racist, the Democrats saying the other party is racist, or their policies resulting in twice the number of unemployed in the black community as the white community.

The Democrats will win the next election if the Republicans pull a Romney and let them get away with this stuff. If’ it’s all about messaging, the Republicans need to get into the game.

bflat879 on July 10, 2014 at 11:09 PM

We are about to witness the reemergence of second wave feminism.

I’m pretty sure the majority of the second-wave feminists no longer have to worry about contraception. Menopause has come and gone for most of them by this point.

As far as third-wave feminists go, who are their representatives and idols these days? Wendy Davis, Lena Dunham, and Sandra Fluke. They spend the majority of their time screaming down any opposition, calling conservative females names, and angrily insisting that the speak for every woman on the planet. The last thing they are interested in is individualism and free thought.

These arguments will win with them because they are obsessed with sex and victimhood and don’t want to take any responsibility for their lives. But these women are not a good fit for conservative politics. They do not respect freedom of speech, personal responsibility, or forging any kind of identity apart from what the government, media, and entertainment industry tell them is proper and true. They are a lost cause, at least for now.

dogwoodtiredkat on July 11, 2014 at 12:22 AM

Nancy Pelosi has a new hashtag sign…….BRING BACK OUR DIAPHRAMS

Lee Jan on July 11, 2014 at 6:43 AM

Guess we’re all done. Thanks for your help, professor. I couldn’t have done it without you.

And congratulations again on the personal role you actively took in denying medication to women.

rogerb on July 12, 2014 at 8:39 AM

The only hobby Sen Reid and he followers have is politics, and they are not very good at it.

MSGTAS on July 13, 2014 at 11:16 AM

They have denied the Constitution, asserting that no one can overrule a law passed by Congress. Impeach them all. You can’t get rid of Obama until the Democrats are out of the Senate.

flataffect on July 13, 2014 at 5:08 PM

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