Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 29, 2015

Senate Democrats Eye End Run Around Hobby Lobby Case (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:19 p.m. | Senate Democrats plan to “fight” to ensure women retain access through their insurance to contraceptives, after the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.

Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said in a statement that while he certainly opposed the Supreme Court’s 5-4 opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that said closely held corporations did not have to provide contraceptive services as part of health insurance plans if they have religious exemptions, he noted the scope was somewhat narrow.

“I disagree strongly with today’s Supreme Court’s decision, which will limit access to critical preventive care for everyday working people in Iowa and around the country. I am heartened, however, that the Court’s narrow decision would not extend to other guaranteed health benefits from the Affordable Care Act such as blood transfusions and vaccinations,” the Iowa Democrat said in his statement.

“While the Supreme Court has ruled, this fight is far from over. Along with my colleagues in Congress, I am deeply committed to ensuring that all Americans — men and women alike — can get the health coverage they need, and we will be exploring legislative remedies to ensure that affordable contraceptive coverage remains available and accessible,” Harkin said.

Harkin is chairman of both the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that provides funds to the Department of Health and Human Services.

An early concrete legislative proposal came from the desk of Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin. The Illinois Democrat plans a bill that would require corporations denying insurance coverage to employees pursuant to the Hobby Lobby case to be disclosed.

“I will introduce legislation that requires all corporations using this Supreme Court decision to deny or limit contraception services to disclose this policy to all employed and applicants for employment,” Durbin said in a statement. “Workers have a right to know if their employers are restricting the availability of a full range of family planning coverage.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled likewise in his own statement, without providing details.

“Today’s decision jeopardizes women’s access to essential health care. Employers have no business intruding in the private health care decisions women make with their doctors. This ruling ignores the scientific evidence showing that the health security of millions of American women is strengthened by access to these crucial services,” Reid said. “If the Supreme Court will not protect women’s access to health care, then Democrats will. We will continue to fight to preserve women’s access to contraceptive coverage and keep bosses out of the examination room.”

President Barack Obama wants Congress to pass a new contraception law to ensure women keep their coverage, although Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration may be able to act even without Congress.

Sen. Patty Murray, a member of the Democratic leadership, signaled in a statement she was open to both options.

“Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business – period. Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will,” the Washington Democrat said in a statement. “In the coming days I will work with my colleagues and the Administration to protect this access, regardless of who signs your paycheck.”

Any legislative fix would face a huge hurdle — namely the seemingly universal praise for the decision from Republicans, including Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

But in the majority opinion at the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Alito seemed to open the door to HHS providing for the contraceptives to be covered through other means.

“HHS has not shown that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion by the objecting parties in these cases,” wrote Alito. “The most straightforward way of doing this would be for the Government to assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives at issue to any women who are unable to obtain them under their health-insurance policies due to their employers’ religious objections. This would certainly be less restrictive of the plaintiffs’ religious liberty… that this is not a viable alternative.”

Likewise, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurrence pointing to existing protocols for religious organizations.

“[I]n other instances the Government has allowed the same contraception coverage in issue here to be pro- vided to employees of nonprofit religious organizations, as an accommodation to the religious objections of those entities,” Kennedy said. “The accommodation works by requiring insurance companies to cover, without cost sharing, contraception coverage for female employees who wish it. That accommodation equally furthers the Government’s interest but does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs.”

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.


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  • Lilu Kanine

    Hobby Lobby pays for 16 out of 20 choices ACA wanted for birth control. If the govt. wants to supply abortificants, pay for it.

    • karmafordems

      Problem is that I have a problem with my tax dollars paying for spontaneous abortion. It also seems there will be problems with states rights.

  • Derfallbright

    Decisions like this make me a little crazy because both sides of the issue go out talking about things that have nothing to do with what was said in the actual ruling.

    In simple terms as I understand it. The birth of a child is prevented in three ways.

    1. The most effective and cost free method is not to have sex. Few experts disagree on this.

    2. Some kind of practice, devise, product or medicine that prevents a pregnancy from occurring in the first place. (ie. condoms, birth control pills)

    3. Post pregnancy devises or medicines or practices that eliminate or destroy the baby post conception. (ie. morning after pills or other abortions)

    A survey of people varies along a line with all of these methods. Said another way you can find people who support the abortion of a baby up until birth. (there are some of us who have taken their kids through their teenage years that think the law should give special consideration to extending this right through the age of 21….but I’m digressing) I don’t know where the other end of this starts. I guess using the old Catholic rules that outlawed any artificial method to prevent conception is probably the starting point.

    Religious people feel that ending a pregnancy that is 26 minuets old or 26 weeks old is a sin…end of story..full stop. Tax rules made by the Government should not force them to support any form of abortion related medicines. This ruling has nothing to do with birth control practices that are standard old fashioned birth control.

    It’s hard for me to tell if people like Harry Reid are just stupid or are being willfully deceptive.

    • Behind_You1


    • feastfirst

      …if people like Harry Reid are just stupid or are being willfully deceptive.

      That Sen. Reid’s first move is always to willingly deceive, there can be no doubt.
      Stupid is harder to analyze. These people have some real areas of expertise, mostly concerning political maneuvering. On policy facts, science and consequences they are generally laughably stupid.

    • ptsargent

      Replace the “or” in your last sentence with “and”. I would add Reid is also always trolling for votes.

      • unominous

        I would add that Reid is also always trolling for votes donors.

        There. Fixed it for you.

        • ptsargent

          Thank you.

    • Jim Sweet

      “It’s hard for me to tell if people like Harry Reid are just stupid or are being willfully deceptive.” – Both are usually true at the same time.

  • SamHamilton

    Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business – period.

    Then why’d she get the boss involved in the first place?

    • Derfallbright

      Sam this decision has nothing to do with your ‘health care decisions’ it has to do with the government forcing an owner with deeply held religious convictions to pay for abortions or more specifically abortificants. An employee is still free to do what they want.

      The court said to the government …if you want this covered…you pay for it.

      Can strong arguments be made on the other side…..sure….they were made….and the SCOTUS made a final ruling.

      • CiceroTheLatest

        Agreed. And as evidence that you’ve nailed it exactly, we can point to ALL Democrats and other Leftists (including the author of this propaganda exercise) grossly distorting the issue and decision at any and every opportunity.

      • SamHamilton

        Calm down. Did you read the article? The quote in italics in my post is from the article. It’s a quote from a Senator who voted for the ACA. My response to it is in non-italics.

        My point is that if the Senator didn’t want the boss involved in health care decisions, she shouldn’t have mandated that the boss provide certain things as part of the health insurance package.

  • rickyc

    They can buy them at Walmart for $9/mo. Nobody is keeping them from birth control! Buch of demorat liberal bull!!

    • karmafordems

      Over the counter no less

    • BIK

      Not IUDs. These are inserted in a procedure at a doctor’s office and are much more expensive than the pill. They are used quite a bit for women who cannot, for medical reasons, use the usual pill. Look it up before you say it can be bought at Walmart.

      • pjcostello

        Show me the woman whose ONLY birth control option is an IUD. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

        • Willys

          Try an aspirin… between the knees. And chase it with a dose of personal responsibility.

          Can’t do the personal responsibility thing? Don’t have sex with a guy who’s got balls. It’ll be a great start to your marriage.

        • BIK

          Me!!! Of course since I have seen 3/4 of a century of life that was years ago. Another option would be sterilization or just saying “no” to your husband. Then again my mother-in-law (who was a strict Catholic) had the right idea as she left the marital bed (after she had 2 kids) and went into her own bedroom.

          • streetlevel47

            That’s the “right idea”…?? If she was a “strict Catholic”, why did she change beds? Wouldn’t – possibly – having more children have been the “correct” choice, in the Church’s mindset?

          • BIK

            As far as I know there is nothing in Catholic dogma that says you must have many children otherwise they wouldn’t countenance NFP

          • streetlevel47

            Yeah, I get that, but I think there might be a better solution than “Never AGAIN!” Silly question, but are we men only good for having kids, and providing for them? Is there a relationship AFTER children? Including a physical one, I mean… Or am I just being silly and boyish?

          • BIK

            There is a better solution…it is called contraception which for some women only an IUD (which prevents fertilization) is a safe contraception method. Unfortunately for my MIL those options were not available way back then..
            Yes there should be a relationship after children including a physical one as long as it is a responsible one and you are not being silly and boyish.

      • Bob Smith

        Just use NFP. It’s free, easy, and effective. No need for IUDs, pills, etc.

        • BIK

          Didn’t work for my mother-in-la (who only wanted one child) and didn’t work for me. Not all husbands needs follow a woman’s cycle especially if the cycle is erratic. A woman just saying no rarely works.

  • shamu9

    Democrats need to Go To Cuba, or Mexico!! They LOVE the SCOTUS when it Pushes their Agenda!!

  • Behind_You1

    Good luck getting anything past the House!

  • karmafordems

    Patty murray forgets that democrats no longer own both houses. Good luck with that.

    • feastfirst

      Patty just wants a talking point to keep the war on women meme alive.

      • ptsargent

        Patty’s one of the “dumber than stone” female Senators, in league with her “dumber than stone” male Senators Reid, Durbin, Actually they’re all simply trolling for votes 24/7.

  • thegreyman

    It is a woman’s body. I get that. I also get that I have absolutely no say in what happens to it. So why am I, and others, asked to pay for it?

    Aren’t women smart enough and capable enough to pay for themselves? It seems the other side doesn’t think so. How misogynistic of them.

    • Arch

      Because…. Shut up!

      • streetlevel47

        Great post…LOL!!

    • ptsargent

      For many, not when it comes to getting a freebie!

  • Arch

    The legal community has come a long way on abortion – from murder to women’s health care. In fact, if someone other than an abortion doctor kills a fetus, it is still murder.

  • dwpittelli

    Sure, it’s easy to criticize our noble Senators for their occasional inexactness of diction. But come on, all right-thinking (er, left-thinking) people know that “access” means “free”!

  • Laka

    Durbin’s bill is called the Religious Freedom Registration and Control Act

  • higgins1990

    When it comes to killing babies, the Democrats will let nothing get in their way.

  • Jim Sweet

    For most women, the cost of birth control is negligible. This whole mess is nothing more than feminist boondoggling.

  • WildBill0283

    Liberals haven’t been this upset in quite a while, probably since the fall of the Soviet Union.

  • Hogarth Kramer

    Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled likewise in his own statement, without providing details. “Today’s decision jeopardizes women’s access to essential health care. Employers have no business intruding in the private health care decisions women make with their doctors.”

    Nor do you, Harry. No business at all, but that hasn’t slowed your steamroller of doom one little bit.

  • Bandit Keena

    Dems love them some handouts

  • ebola131

    Birth control is not “health care”.

  • Derfallbright

    I’m going to say something that may seem a little off the wall, but I wounder if it is true.

    Back during Roman times they had big ‘circuses’ where the people of Rome gathered by the thousands to watch an applaud Christians being fed to the lions.

    One would assume that the people that were in attendance at these events were all for it. Based on what I read there are also lots of people that favor abortions of unborn babies (at various stages of development).

    On the other side of the issue I assume there were people in Rome that were against having lions eat people and they elected not to participate in these events.

    My point is peoples view of killing people (or unborn people) has had both support and opposition throughout time. The people who were watching the lions shred the Christians probably could not understand why anyone would be opposed and it is equally true that people who are pro abortion don’t get why some people would be opposed.

    I do not think it is possible for the parties on both sides of this issue to fully understand the other persons point of view.

  • jukin

    So bosses have to stay out of the bedroom but bosses have to pay ?

    Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. But these are leftists and reality shall never interfere with their lies.

  • Greg Quark

    Wow, 768 words about teh Hobby Lobby decision, and not ONCE do you mention RFRA (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act), which was the basis for this ruling.

    Are you just so ignorant that you can’t write a worthwhile report? Or so dishonest that you refuse to write one?

    All the Democrats had to do to avoid this was include a RFRA waiver in ObamaCare. They didn’t, because they didn’t want to admit, while trying to get ObamaCare passed, that they were going to deliberately trample over people’s religious freedoms once ObamaCare was passed. So the main people at “fault” for this result are … Tom Harkin and Harry Reid.

    Gee, I wonder why that didn’t make it in to your article?

    Read the RFRA, then read Alito’s decision. Because Alito’s decision was the only honestly possible outcome, given the laws that were passed.

  • derf

    A lot of the rhetoric is seriously overblown, on both sides. I find that Ginsburg overstates her case when she says : “The ruling would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure.”
    Hogwash. The Hobby Lobby group wasn’t objecting to all birth control forms, just IUD’s and things like the morning after pill. And yet again, she introduces the canard that just because someone else isn’t paying for it, that means you don’t have access to it. In other words, just because Hobby Lobby’s insurance doesn’t provide FREE IUD’s doesn’t mean that a woman can’t get an IUD. Or that there aren’t other alternatives to IUD’s for contraception that wouldn’t be covered. Or very inexpensive ones they could pay for themselves.
    I don’t buy the argument that free contraception is a right. Or a right that someone else should be required to pay for.

    • streetlevel47

      As I heard on TV tonight, on O’Reilly, paraphrased: A right is something that is free and already yours (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.). Anything that requires someone else to pay for is something else again…

  • derf

    “While the Supreme Court has ruled, this fight is far from over. Along with my colleagues in Congress, I am deeply committed to ensuring that all Americans — men and women alike — can get the health coverage they need, and we will be exploring legislative remedies to ensure that affordable contraceptive coverage remains available and accessible,” Harkin said.

    Seriously dishonest.
    1) This wasn’t about affordable contraception, it’s about “FREE” contraception paid for or subsidized by your employer.
    2) There is affordable and available and accessible contraception after the Hobby Lobby decision, just as it was before.
    3) Conflating not requiring someone else to pay for it with it being unavailable or inaccessible is dishonest. That’s what we will have to expect and deal with over the next many months…

  • K in Colorado

    Dems are flat out lying about this. Let’s see. Hobby Lobby has always provided birth control coverage for female employees. Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to be forced to pay for a small subset of birth control that incudes abortions. Female employees and their doctor are free to use any sort of birth control they want, they will just have pay on their own for that small subset. Further, there is no equal protection under the law – the ACA mandates female birth control be paid for, females only need that if they are having sex, which is voluntary. I have to take Cialis because of a spinal cord injury. My employer should be forced to pay for my Cialis – how dare the Federal government determine my health care decisions.

  • Adam Smith

    In this article we find even more confirmation that liberals are dangerous idiots:

  • Ash Berger

    In a related YouTube video, we find a fairly typical example of the Al Nusra Front “allies” that Hussein Obama’s criminal marxist regime has chosen to support in Syria:

  • VeritasIII

    So it’s important for “freedom” to get the government to force folks to use their own money, from their own business, to buy insurance for their own employees that offends their personal religious beliefs. When did it become a “right” to have someone else by you the kind of insurance you want? Really? This is how Democrats are going to make our nation better, more free and more tolerant?

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