Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Democrat’s Hobby

A decision has been rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case. The reaction to that decision in Connecticut among prominent Democrats was instantaneous. State Democratic chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said, “If you believe in progress for women, if you believe we cannot turn back the clock, and if you believe that women should make decisions about their health instead of their bosses, then you should sign our petition. Businesses should not be allowed to make decisions about women’s health—that should be up to a woman and her doctor.”

That kind of canned, potboiler response is to be expected from the Democratic Party chairman. It is the key that fits the keyhole of a propaganda effort from the national Democratic Party that hopes to make use of the court’s decision to unhorse Republicans in the upcoming elections.

The court’s decision does not turn back the clock very far. It was a Democratic president – the husband of prospective Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton -- who was the architect of the 1993 law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, voted into law with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate. Mr. Clinton’s bill sought to accommodate religious obligations. Ms. DiNardo has abandoned that effort, but the Supreme Court in its most recent decision has not. It probably is worth mentioning that Hobby Lobby sued and won its case under the auspices of the Clinton bill, a datum that almost certainly will not be mentioned by Mrs. Clinton on the campaign stump.

The Court’s present accommodation is narrow, from which, one may assume, the justices were anxious to accommodate both parties to the suit. And the ruling itself comes with an escape clause written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy wrote: “The accommodation works by requiring insurance companies to cover, without cost sharing, contraception coverage for female employees who wish it," an arrangement, he said, that "does not impinge on the plaintiffs' religious beliefs."

In most cases, the Supreme Court ruling will not affect decisions women make about contraception, but the notion that the court decision is but one step in a conspiracy to rob women of their right to contraception and abortion is a useful tool in political campaigns.

Just to begin with, the administrative mandate that forces some religious people to violate Christian precepts does NOT apply to companies that employ less than 50 people, an exception carved out in the Obama Care law itself. If Ms. DiNardo truly was interested in extending what she supposes are the benefits of tax funded birth control, including abortifacients, to the majority of women deprived of such benefits by the Obama Care law, she would instantly urge all Democrats in Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation to craft and submit an amendment to the Obamacare bill that would extend the benefits of the Kathrine Sebelius’ administrative  mandate to all companies in the United States that employ 50 people or less. But she won’t.

The court decision affects only certain kinds of birth control, emergency contraceptives Plan B, Ella and two IUDs. Some religious regard these forms of birth control as abortifacients. Even Hobby Lobby presently provides birth control coverage to its employees; its owners object in their suit only to emergency contraceptives such as the morning-after pill and the week-after pill. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake cites a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found 85 percent of large employers offered contraception coverage prior to the administrative interpretation issued by former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that required some religious to violate their religiously informed consciences. The Sebelius Rule was not part of the original Obamacare legislation.

The borders erected by the high court are not easily surmounted. Condemning the court ruling as discriminatory and “deeply disappointing,” President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards took much of the rhetorical sting out of the coming political assault on Republicans when she acknowledged that most employees receiving contraceptive coverage through the Affordable Health Care mandate will still be able to do so.

Both Connecticut U. S. Senators, neither of whom are willing to let a largely manufactured crisis go to waste, are using the high court decision to generate campaign funds. Mr. Blumenthal, who as Connecticut’s Attorney General spent more than 20 years arguing cases in court, appears purposely to have misunderstood the ruling, mostly for political purposes. Mr. Blumenthal -- whose chief of staff, Laurie Rubiner, is former vice president for public policy and advocacy for Planned Parenthood Federation of America – implored potential political contributors “to add your name now to stand for women’s right to access to comprehensive health care… The Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case dealt a crushing blow to individual rights to privacy by ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and allowing some corporate bosses to deny women access to contraception based solely on their own beliefs.”

Mr. Murphy’s plea for campaign cash was similar. But the bid for cash by Mr. Blumenthal, the fourth richest Senator in the U.S. Congress, is the more shameless: Mr. Blumenthal has himself argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and he knows very well that the high court is not inclined in its rulings to support those Republican Party causes that no doubt offend the delicate sensibilities of both himself and his chief of staff. It is worth pointing out that Ms. Sebelius, by inserting into the Obamacare law an administrative ruling that does not appear in the Obamacare legislation, acrobatically leapt over both the U.S. Senate and the House, sparing Senators like Mr. Blumenthal the agony of voting in favor of a measure they heartily approve in their communications to their political contributors.

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