Republicans are attempting to take Hobby Lobby to the bank.
The Supreme Court ruled today that family-run businesses, including the chain of craft stores that brought the complaint, can claim a religious exemption from the government’s requirement that they include coverage for contraceptives in their employees’ health-care plans.
That’s one of those “Obamacare” requirements.
“The central issue of the case brought by Hobby Lobby and other family businesses was whether the federal government can coerce Americans to violate their deeply held religious beliefs,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement this afternoon calling the (5-4) court ruling a “clear and decisive defeat against Obamacare.”
It’s also a clear opportunity, on this final day of the month in the party’s midterm election fundraising. The party was just $33,729 short of an online goal, Priebus’ email appeal noted, calling on supporters to pitch in by midnight.
While the appeal to religious freedom may well appeal to the party’s base, it’s unclear how the ruling might lead, as Priebus suggests, to the end of Obamacare.
It’s also unclear how this might add any momentum to the midterm campaigns, as a solid majority of voters in the “battleground” states where the party is attempting to wrest control of the Senate in November already say they oppose the president’s Affordable Care Act.
Democrats will attempt to make other use of the ruling in the midterms and beyond.
Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and senator from New York eyeing another campaign for president in 2016, calls the ruling “deeply disturbing.”
In a ``Facebook Live” session at the Aspen Ideas Festival today sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, moderator Walter Isaacson asked Clinton about the Supreme Court’s hours-old Hobby Lobby decision. The former secretary of state said: “I disagree with the reasoning as well as the conclusion… It is a disturbing trend that you see in a lot of societies that are unstable, anti-democratic, and prone to extremism. Women’s bodies are used as the defining and unifying issue to bring together people—men—to get them to behave in ways that are disadvantageous to women but prop up rulers.”
“Just think about this for a minute,” Clinton said. “It’s the first time that our court has said that a closely held corporation has the rights of a person when it comes to religious freedom. Which means that the corporation, closely held, often family based, not exclusively but usually, can impose their religious beliefs on their employees and of course denying women contraception as part of their heath care plan is exactly that. I find it deeply disturbing that we are going in that direction.”
Now, she said, “many more companies will claim religious beliefs. Some will be some sincere, others maybe not. We’re going to see this one insurable service cut out for many women… This is a really bad, slippery slope.”
Democrats view the ruling as more than problematic — also riddled with irony:
— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) June 30, 2014
Yet the Democrats already are fighting uphill on Obamacare.
Fifty-eight percent of all voters surveyed in the 12 states where the balance of power in the Senate will be determined in Noveeber — a survey that Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Whit Ayres took June 6-11 — said they oppose the 2010 law also known as Obamacare. Just 40 percent said they support it.
Among Republicans, opposition ran 91 percent.
Which makes it a potentially potent party fundraising tool.