How the Hobby Lobby Ruling Could Help Democrats

I think this Hobby Lobby ruling really could end up blowing up in the faces of the Republicans and it could happen relatively soon. If the Democrats are smart, they should have campaign commercials on this issue running tomorrow, especially in key Senate races.

At a time when Republicans are trying to reach out to women and narrow the gender gap, this comes at a terrible time for them and the Democrats need to take advantage of that. The optics of five old men making a decision that has a huge effect on women around the country is not a good one for the GOP. And with Democrats struggling to hold on to the Senate in the November midterms, they should seize the opportunity to drive more women to the polls and attract independent women voters to their side.

There are several key Senate races around the country with women on the ballot, most obviously Alison Grimes running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. That race is very tight and likely to stay that way, so if women show up at the polls in the upcoming midterms in the numbers they turn out in for presidential elections, that could easily be enough to swing the race. The same is true of Michelle Nunn in Georgia and Natalie Tennant in West Virginia.

Even here in Michigan, where the Republican candidate is a woman, Terri Lynn Land, and the Democrat is a man, Gary Peters, this could have a similar effect. Peters has already been running ads saying Land is bad for women and this gives him a perfect argument: Put Land in the Senate and Obama won’t be able to get any more judicial nominees confirmed, even for the Supreme Court.

And you know who should be leading the fight on this? Hillary Clinton. She should be scheduling campaign appearances right now with Senate candidates all over the country and focus primarily on this issue. If the Democrats take advantage of this opportunity, they may be able to retain control of the Senate.

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  • The one thing that dampens that is this ruling mostly affects young people, and young people aren’t as reliable about getting to the polls. Especially in off-year elections.

    But yes, the obvious thing for Democrats to do is to use this to get young people to the polls. Every twenty year-old woman (and her boyfriend or husband) should be chewing nails over this.

  • tbp1

    True enough, but Democrats have a long history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Still, your mouth to FSM’s ears.

  • Kevin Kehres

    @1 — sadly, this is true.

    Which is why I consistently say that people get the government they deserve. Don’t vote in the primaries and a far-right nut job gets nominated over a moderate candidate? Whose fault is that? The moderate voters who stay at home.

    Don’t bother to vote in the mid-terms and that far-right nutter gets elected to Congress? Again, whose fault? The stay-at-homes who could have made a difference.

    Until people stop thinking that elections are only about the Presidential race, we’ll be in this pickle.

  • eric

    @1 – Not so. First, because women up to 40-50 and their spouses are going to care about whether birth control is covered under their health insurance. Second, because parents of any age who have teen girls are also likely to care about whether BC is covered under their family health insurance.


    Its an interesting idea, Ed, but I don’t think “elect democrats so that they can push through judicial appointments” is really a very strong message. Its an indirect argument, and moreover it relies on the dems not just winning the Senate but also winning the presidency..and at the same time, it ignores how the dems could use this message to help with the House.

    I think a much stronger message would be “elect democrats so that they can change the law to provide broad-based contraception coverage to all women, regardless of their employment, so that neither this supreme court nor some future one can ever take it away like they tried to do yesterday.”

  • abb3w

    The downside is that this verdict can easily be re-cast as a ruling supporting religious privilege liberty — and women are disproportionately likely to be strongly religious. While worth trying, any plan should be made expecting counter-spin.

    @4 eric

    I don’t think “elect democrats so that they can push through judicial appointments” is really a very strong message.

    True; however, this ruling hinges not so much on the Constitution, but ordinary statuory law. As such, it’s easily changed by Congressional legislation. If you could deploy an orbital mind control laser platform against Congress to turn the vast majority of them into bleeding heart liberals, we could have federal single-payer contraception, narrowing of the RFRA, or other legislative patch before the 4th of July holiday. Elections, alas, take longer.

  • scienceavenger

    But Ed, aren’t you listening to the talking heads on Fox? This was a victory for women, because some of the businessowners in the suit were women.

  • Moggie

    If the Democrats are smart

    I think I’ve spotted the problem.

  • I agree with you entirely, Ed. But if recent history has shown us nothing else, it’s that the Dems are not nearly so pro-active in the politics game.

    I wish they were but, sadly, I doubt it’s gonna happen.

  • lofgren

    It seems to me that the optics of attacking the Supreme Court Justices do not play right. Very informed people know that Justices have ideological biases, but to the majority of potential voters they are paragons of impartiality. Criticizing their judgments is more likely to backfire than anything else, as their positions are difficult to directly associate with Republican Congressional candidates in the minds of middle- to low-information voters.