Written by: Chris Bing
On June 30th, the Supreme Court of the United States(SCOTUS) ruled in favor of religious exceptionalism, siding with the Christian-backed arts and craft store, Hobby Lobby, and furniture outlet, Conestoga Wood, and its owners, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby - 573 U.S. A week has passed now since SCOTUS’s infamous ruling and it seems, for the moment, that the reverberating media-tidal wave it left behind is finally starting to calm down. Though the waters remain restless, evidence of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby - 573 U.S. already litters the coasts of November’s pivotal mid-term election. Whether you choose to run into the current, like the GOP, or run away from it like the Democrats have, is up to you, just understand you’re going to get wet either way — best bring your trunks, gentlemen.
The recent Hobby Lobby ruling will provoke voters more so than any other Supreme Court decision this fall because Democrats and Republicans have cornered each topic — the failures of the ACA with the assist of prioritizing 1st amendment rights for the GOP and oppositely, the importance of women’s reproductive rights assisted by a doctrine of fair-pay/gender equality for the Democrats — as prominent narratives in congressional campaign races nationwide.
“These Supreme Court decisions, it’s a reminder to people on our side of the aisle of the importance of the court, and then the importance of recapturing the Senate … And the same is true for the other side.”- Cleta Mitchell, Partner at Foley & Lardner
A flurry of other Supreme Court decisions this year on reproductive rights, executive power, and other issues will also play a prominent role in November’s midterm elections, reinforcing the lines of attack and rallying base voters on both sides — effectively laying the groundwork for the main event: the 2016 Presidential Election.
The decision, which said private companies could opt out of the law's requirement to offer birth-control coverage on religious grounds, was a setback for President Barack Obama’s Administration at a time when it was desperate for a ‘win’.
Matt Canter, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director, told The Washington Post, “both sides are spending real dollars on television talking about this debate.”
However, as Sam Baker of the National Journal wrote last week, the decision may have little effect on many employers, particularly large companies. Contraceptive coverage is popular and cheap in comparison to the costs associated with an employee getting pregnant.
While all sorts of questions have arisen from the Hobby Lobby decision, there is also the fact that the ruling is in reality, actually quite narrow in its current legislative authority.
Still, Democrats and Republicans are courting their best pitch-men to go full tilt on this ruling.
"It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions,”-Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman.
Legendary baseball broadcaster, John Francis "Jack" Buck, once said, “Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”
Congressional campaign managers everywhere would be smart to heed Jack’s word and have it engrained in their race mentality. Each campaign race will play out in three, separate, crucial subject arenas, and all three — fundraising, attracting independent and female voters, and an underscored argument for Senate control — will also have had experienced the aftereffects brought on by the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision.
“Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will … In the coming days I will work with my colleagues and the Administration to protect this access, regardless of who signs your paycheck.”-Senator Patty Murray, WA-D
If anyone can, and should, rally public anger here though, it is the Democrats. And, if there is one thing that mobilizes a voting base more than anything else it is anger first and fear second.
Single women make up one of the fastest growing voter demographics in the U.S. — they now comprise approximately a quarter of the electorate. A recent Stan Greenberg poll posits that unmarried women can "make or break" the 2014 elections.
As Mara Liasson of NPR wrote in May, single women are firmly in the Democrat’s camp. Nevertheless, I would be quick to pump the breaks on any sort of ceremonious victory lap. The issue becomes that like everyone else in the electorate, young women are less likely to turn out to vote in midterm elections.
Getting young female voters fired up about a controversial SCOTUS decision is one thing; getting them to vote is another. Luckily, contraception coverage is an issue young women deeply care about.
A recent poll conducted by Hart Research Associates, in partnership with Planned Parenthood, found that 81 percent of female voters believe prescription birth control should be covered as a preventive health service, at no additional cost to prescribers.
Republican campaign operatives are doing their best to portray the Hobby Lobby decision purely as a win for religious freedom, which is inevitably, a more attractive spin than the loss of reproductive freedom for women who work for these companies.
"This case is about the freedoms of all Americans -- women and men -- and it's something that all Americans should celebrate today,”-Lori Windham, senior counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
According to a recent national survey from Rasmussen Reports, the percentage of American voters who call themselves pro-life is also at an all-time high — presenting a particularly advantageous scenario for red-state/GOP base voter turnout.
“A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of likely U.S. voters now consider themselves pro-choice, while 44% are pro-life … The percentage of pro-choice voters is down from March’s all-time high of 56% … Unaffiliated voters by a 48% to 41% margin lean toward being pro-choice.”-Rasmussen Reports 2014
At face value, it seems the Republicans hold a decent two-card hand because of SCOTUS’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby - 573 U.S, ruling — call it an off-suit Jack,Ten in Texas Hold’em but with a poor flop on the board.
That being said, it stands to reason that the Democrats are the ones who own the potential to create a more powerful campaign tool out of it — which would look something like a Nine, Seven but they pull a straight from the board.
“The Supreme Court, in other words, could become a high-profile stand-in for the offensive remarks of Tea Party candidates (remember “legitimate rape”?) that helped elect several Democrats in 2012, but have largely been quieted this year.”-David Firestone, Op-ed Contributor for The New York Times
Though the Democrat’s original two-card hand set may have been inferior, reading the five-card board (a constituency’s demands) and understanding its composition (a constituency’s characteristics) may empower them to rack in the pot and eventually, cash out (pick up the necessary votes).
In the end, the best pitchmen will be able to control the potential Hobby Lobby influence on their respective representative’s campaign hopes. Those campaign operatives who are unlucky enough to be bitten by the beast though, and are in-effect unable to spin it properly, will suffer the full promise of its electoral wrath.