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August 23, 2014 5:14 PM New Hobby Lobby fix puts Republicans in a bind

By David Atkins

In response to the Hobby Lobby case, the White House has implemented a fix to allow institutions and corporations who object even to a funding bypass on contraception coverage for employees. The fix is an overly complex workaround necessitated by the Supreme Court’s bizarre ruling that corporations have 1st Amendment religious rights, and can enforce those rights by refusing not only to provide contraception coverage, but even to enter into an agreement by which the government would provide contraception coverage for them.

The case puts conservative legislators in a bind: most people do not, in fact, believe that corporations should have religious rights. Most people don’t believe that contraception is a bad thing, or that employers should get to interfere in whether an employee’s insurance can cover contraception.

Republican lawmakers who claim to be moderates on reproductive rights are especially challenged. Many Republicans who claim to have a more tolerant philosophy on reproductive freedom nevertheless cast votes that align with their more extreme partisan counterparts, and paper it over by saying that they aren’t trying to ban abortion or contraception, but simply that they’re trying to make it “safer.”

The Hobby Lobby case removes that cover. Either you think it’s OK for corporation to decide not to cover birth control out of extremist religious objection, or you don’t.
Take the case of Jeff Gorell, Republican Assemblymember in California and candidate for Congress against freshman Congresswoman Julia Brownley. Gorell calls himself “pro-choice” even though he has a 0% rating with Planned Parenthood, and a 90% rating from the California Pro-Life Council. He has been silent on the Hobby Lobby case despite repeated requests for comment. There’s even video of him stonewalling a questioner on the subject.

My tweets to both the NRCC and Mr. Gorell have also gone without response.

They’re silent, of course, because they have no good answer. If Mr. Gorell and Republicans like him all across America stand with Scalia and Alito on Hobby Lobby, they will betray themselves as far too extreme for the voters of their districts. If they disagree with the ruling, their rabid Tea Party base will stay home or actively nip at their heels from the right.

So they just hope the issue will go away and people will stop talking about it. It won’t, of course. Republicans across the board will eventually have take a stand on whether they think corporations should have the religious right to prevent their employees from receiving birth control coverage.

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