Issue #292

Hobby Lobby: A ruling that both sides can run with

The Supreme Court’s ruling Monday that the government cannot force certain employers to pay for birth control was more than a rebuke to President Obama. It was vindication of the conservative movement’s efforts to chip away at laws it finds objectionable by raising questions of freedom of expression. The decision—like several recent rulings from the justices and lower courts involving prayer at town meetings and protests outside abortion clinics—carved out a significant, albeit narrow, legal exception in the context of a broader cultural fight that social conservatives have been unable to win outright. Leaders predicted Monday’s decision would infuse Republicans with energy as they fight to take control of the Senate this year and reclaim the White House in 2016. Yet even as conservatives celebrated coming out on the winning side of a divisive social issue, their court victory may have also handed Democrats an issue that will turn out liberal voters in the fall. Democrats have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last several years to cast Republicans as callous and extreme on women’s health issues. And party strategists believe their ability to hold on to the Senate this year depends in large part on persuading women that a Republican Senate and White House would only produce more outcomes like Monday’s ruling, which they contend is harmful and hostile to women’s rights. New York Times, 7-1-14.

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