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3 Ways Hobby Lobby Ruling Could Impact 2014 (Video)
Posted at 2:52 p.m. on June 30
The Supreme Court’s narrow Monday decision allowing some companies to not offer contraceptive coverage for employees could have an impact on the November midterms.
The ruling is a polarizing one for Democrats and Republicans — and both sides have already tried to use it to their political advantage.
Republicans mostly support the court’s decision, calling it a win for religious freedom and a major defeat for the president’s health care overhaul law that required company health care plans to cover birth control. Democrats are using the decision to emphasize what they see as the GOP’s unfriendly policies toward women.
That contrast could play out in three key ways in 2014 elections:
Publicly, many Democrats expressed outrage with the court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. But privately, they acknowledged the decision will likely be a financial boon for the party in the coming days.
Minutes after the decision, Democratic organizations started to use it in their fundraising pleas.
“In 2014 we should not have to be fighting for access to birth control. A boss should never be able to tell an employee which medical care he or she can have,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., wrote in a fundraising email for her Off the Sidelines political action committee that supports women running for office.
“With the Court’s decision to restrict women’s health care dominating the news, the press and political pundits will scrutinize our [Federal Election Commission] report to determine whether momentum is on our side,” EMILY’s List Executive Director Jess O’Connell wrote in a fundraising plea shortly after the Supreme Court decision.
Republicans will also be in a position to use the decision to raise funds from the party’s base. But in recent cycles, Republicans have had less success with small-dollar donations than Democrats, especially in congressional races.
2. Female Voters
Female voters have become an essential voting bloc. They helped deliver a victory for President Barack Obama in 2012, breaking for him by a 12-point margin. This cycle, Democrats have identified single female voters as a key electorate in many of their top congressional races.
Most Republicans support Monday’s ruling, so Democrats will likely attempt to pin it to GOP candidates in competitive House and Senate races in states where large groups of single female voters have helped them before: Colorado, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia.
“A woman’s personal health decisions about choosing to use contraception and when to start a family should stay strictly between her and her doctor — not her boss,” Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said in a statement released after the decision. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision unacceptably takes these choices out of doctors’ offices and into the workplace.”
Udall’s opponent in the competitive Senate race, GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, said the court “made the right decision” but also called on the Food and Drug Administration to “make oral contraceptives available to adults without a prescription.”
3. An Underscored Argument for Senate Control
Republicans have worked to tie this cycle’s most vulnerable Democrats to Obama, whose popularity has declined since his re-election in 2012.
Now the Hobby Lobby decision gives Democrats more ammunition for their argument that they should keep control of the Senate. Supreme Court nominations must be OK’d by that chamber.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent its own fundraising missive that warned, ”We CAN’T let the GOP use this to steal the momentum, erase our lead, and take over the Senate. The consequences would be dire.”
This cycle Democrats are playing defense in several competitive Senate contests in states such as North Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, Michigan and Iowa. Republicans must net six seats to win control of the Senate.