Supreme Court

The Hobby Lobby Case as Political Clickbait

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Credit: Nicholas Eckhart / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

The Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case this morning was bad news for the Obama administration, which sought to defend its rule that large employers have to provide contraceptive coverage under Obamacare's essential benefits rules. But there was a silver lining for the president's party: The ruling created an opportunity for fund raising, as well as a political talking point going into this year's midterm elections.

Via Politico, the fundraising appeals have already started:

Shortly after the court's 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which said for-profit employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare, the liberal fundraising emails went flying. Democratic candidates and liberal groups were seeking to collect scores of new email addresses and bank last-minute cash contributions in advance of the monthly FEC deadline at midnight Monday.

"It's disgusting: The Supreme Court just ruled that corporations can deny women insurance coverage for birth control," the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a fundraising request less than two hours after the decision.

"It's a shameful day for our country. But 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. With just 14 hours to go before the most critical FEC deadline of this election, please pitch in to stop a GOP Senate takeover," the Senate Democrats wrote in an email with the all-caps subject line "SUPREME COURT DECISION."

Welcome to the bizarro world of modern fundraising, where even bad news can be good for the bottom line. A loss in a big policy fight means outrage, anger and lots of small-dollar campaign contributions from riled-up grass-roots supporters.

It's not just a fundraising tool, either. Democrats are also likely to lean on the decision in their get-out-the-vote efforts this November. The decision is already generating a lot of controversy with single women, a demographic that Democrats are heavily targeting ahead of the next election. Senior Democrats are already making an issue of the case, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and others in his party signaling that they may pursue a legislative response.

"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," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il.), the Senate Majority Whip, said in a statement today, according to Roll Call. "Workers have a right to know if their employers are restricting the availability of a full range of family planning coverage."

You can expect to hear a lot more along these lines as the election nears.

To be clear: I am not at all suggesting that the administration was hoping or intending to lose in court. But this does help explain, at least somewhat, why the administration was so eager to pursue the case, which in the immediate future will have relatively little practical impact (it impacts only closely held corporations, and only four specific forms of contraception, and only corporatations where employers with sincerely held religious beliefs choose to opt out) instead of just letting Hobby Lobby have an exemption and not making, well, a Supreme Court case out of it.

It's the political/legal equivalent of online clickbait; it grabs the attention of large numbers of people, sparks their interests and passions, and gets them engaged (or at least enraged). That doesn't mean the administration set out to lose, or doesn't care about having lost. But it does potentially change the calculus about whether and how hard to press an issue like this by offering some real benefits just for fighting the fight, even in the event of a defeat.

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  1. Sounds like one heck of a plan dude.
    Anon-VPN.com

  2. The butthurt on my FB page about this ruling is delicious. These people are college educated but yet think that someone not paying their shit for them is the same as being denied completely from getting the pill or a procedure done.

    1. Giving less is taking. Taking less is giving. If you question this, you’re a patriarchal, misogynist MRA.

    2. Because these people are college educated they but yet think that someone not paying their shit for them is the same as being denied completely from getting the pill or a procedure done

      FIFY

    3. Emotional politics can be best understood by stripping out all subtlety and making the issue binary. Yes or no, more or less, us or them. Ancillary issues of means, process, or neutrality must also be reduced to the binary and seen as a way to further the agenda of the 1s or the 0s.

    4. The butthurt on my FB page about this ruling is delicious.

      Mine too. And every criticism I see from my prog friends for it stems from false premises.

  3. I also posted this little tidbit from Milton Friedman’s paper about the rising costs of healthcare:

    “Initially, employers did not report the value of the fringe benefit to the IRS as part of their workers’ wages. It took some time before the IRS realized what was going on. When it did, it issued regulations requiring employers to include the value of medical care as part of reported employees’ wages. By this time, workers had become accustomed to the tax exemption of that particular fringe benefit and made a big fuss. Congress responded by legislating that medical care provided by employers should be tax-exempt.

    The tax exemption of employer-provided medical care has two different effects, both of which raise health costs. First, it leads employees to rely on their employer, rather than themselves, to make arrangements for medical care. Yet employees are likely to do a better job of monitoring medical care providers?because it is in their own interest?than is the employer or the insurance company or companies designated by the employer. Second, it leads employees to take a larger fraction of their total remuneration in the form of medical care than they would if spending on medical care had the same tax status as other expenditures.”

  4. Continued:

    “Employer financing of medical care has also caused the term insurance to acquire a rather different meaning in medicine than in most other contexts. We generally rely on insurance to protect us against events that are highly unlikely to occur but that involve large losses if they do occur?major catastrophes, not minor, regularly recurring expenses. We insure our houses against loss from fire, not against the cost of having to cut the lawn. We insure our cars against liability to others or major damage, not against having to pay for gasoline. Yet in medicine, it has become common to rely on insurance to pay for regular medical examinations and often for prescriptions.”

    Of course this went over people’s head.

    1. Yet in medicine, it has become common to rely on insurance to pay for regular medical examinations and often for prescriptions.”

      Fuck this! Fuck them and their $10 copay! I have rights!

      1. When I was in Australia last month, the government announced that seniors were going to have to pay $7 every time they went to the doctor. The airwaves were immediately filled with declarations that said government did not care about Australia’s seniors.

        1. The airwaves were immediately filled with declarations that said government did not care about Australia’s seniors.

          It’s precisely because I care about seniors is why I want them to pay a $7 copay.

          1. My mum is 80 and in pretty good health. Not a lot of disposable income and she was confident she could pay the $7 but she was unsure about people who went to the doctor 2 or 3 times a week.

            I pointed out to her:

            i) if you NEED to go that often, you have bigger problems than the money.

            ii) maybe it’s people going 2 or 3 times a week who don’t need to who are causing $$ problems.

            1. If you can’t pay $15 – $21 a week to save your own life, it’s probable that you’d fall into some kind of welfare safety net and wouldn’t have to pay anything anyway.

              1. Agree. My point was, if you NEED to go 3 times a week, you have some serious health issues.

                1. My point was, if you NEED to go 3 times a week, you have some serious health issues.

                  There’s an argument to be made that a lot of these visits are simply Munchausen’s Syndrome in action–people going not because they’re actually sick, but because they want to feel like someone’s taking care of them.

      2. Well, you better pray for Bo Cara, Esq. to pass the bar and take your case!

    2. It not only goes over ACA supporters heads, but they think employer provided health insurance is so awesome that it should be mandated.

  5. Oh yeah, Hobby Lobby! Well, we’re gonna buy our scrap book supplies from those other guys!

    /da wiminz

  6. I’m sure that Hobby Lobby’s employees will quit en masse in protest of this unprecedented infringement of their benefits… unprecedented before 2010, that is.

  7. I never got a good answer to these questions; perhaps you guys and gals can help:

    Hobby Lobby chose a plan with that did not cover four (4) of the 20 required birth control options. What percentage of women absolutely needed the four medications due to a medical need?

    When did the “right” to have an employer be compelled to select an insurance plan exist? 1900 C.E.? 1950 C.E.? 1990 C.E?

    Why did Sandra Fluke not mention the specific name of medication that her friend that lost her ovaries needed? Could it have been because it would have exposed her mindset that two trips to Starbucks was more important than her friends ovaries?

    1. What percentage of women absolutely needed the four medications due to a medical need?

      A very high percentage – like 90% because the typical birth control pill acts as an abortofacient often.

      Listen to me on this issue. Don’t listen to Fatty Bombo Rush Limbaugh. He was ridiculed here on this site (among millions) for thinking a birth control pill was needs for each sexual encounter.

      1. I thought it was closer to 8%.

      2. “A very high percentage – like 90% because the typical birth control pill acts as an abortofacient often.”

        You really are a mendacious cunt. Or you’re not aware that the pill isn’t the only birth control method.

      3. What percentage of women absolutely needed the four medications due to a medical need?

        A very high percentage – like 90% because the typical birth control pill acts as an abortofacient often.

        90% of women are in medical need of an abortion?

      4. Complete this sentence:

        The morning-after pill is taken the morning after _______ .

        1. a woman, for allah knows why, thinks of shriek in a sexual way.

      5. Shreiking troll posts increasingly preposterous bullshit.

    2. What percentage of women absolutely needed the four medications due to a medical need?

      Zero. There is no “medical need” for contraceptives.

      1. The Pill is frequently used to treat symptoms associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It’s more common than people realize, and if you click through, I’d say that treatment is a “medical necessity.”

        1. Was “the pill” that is used to prevent polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) one of the four medications that was denied?

          Out of the 16 avaliable medications were their ABSOLUTELY no alternatives?

          1. I’m not sure. I haven’t seen the list and was just responding to Rhywun’s “no ‘medical need’ for contraceptives” comment.

            I wasn’t implying that it was Hobby Lobby’s job to provide it for them. Although I would be curious if it were one of the non-covered medications if it would be covered for treatment of PCOS even though it wasn’t covered for …recreational use.

            1. I don’t know how many The Pill’s there are, but I know that at least one The Pill was one of the 16 covered.

            2. “Rhywun’s “no ‘medical need’ for contraceptives” comment.”

              And you jumped the gun in doing so. PCOS has a large set of treatment options for which the formulation used in birth control is a single option.

              More importantly, the same compounds can be delivered as a PCOS medication with the same efficacy, making Rhywun’s statement irrefutably true.

              I really hate the people who trot that out and act like birth control pills are necessary just because one of the current formulations is birth control.

              It’s insulting. You’re pointing at a third order treatment and a tiny subset of cases and acting like they matter statistically and that compounding pharmacies don’t exist.

              1. More importantly, the same compounds can be delivered as a PCOS medication with the same efficacy, making Rhywun’s statement irrefutably true.

                Histrionics much? If they’re using the same compounds and labeling them as a PCOS medication it’s still essentially “the pill” the same way Midol is still essentially Aleve with pink packaging. Yes there are other treatments but formulations of the pill are cheap, effective and readily available. Ideally people would be buying this stuff with cash and having a readily available prepped option is easier and cheaper than getting specially tailored versions.

        2. Women who take birth control pills for PCOS are not doing so to control fertility. They are taking the pills for a medical reason.

          When the pill is prescribed for PCOS it is, and was, covered by most insurance.

          Restoring function–the reason EDs drugs are covered–is very different from electively interrupting function.

          There is no medical necessity for contraception. The medical necessity is the regulation of menstruation.

    3. Even though I like the idea of universal contraception as an investment towards a healthier future tax base, I don’t think it necessarily has to be provided by employers and, as you said, this isn’t a lot of money we’re talking about, when other requirements under the ACA afford the few dollars that a particular contraceptive would cost from month to month. Some of us brew our own coffee at home.

      1. Even though I like the idea of universal contraception as an investment towards a healthier future tax base,

        If by ‘healthier future tax base you mean a shrinking one that will starve the Ponzi Scheme Beast, then we’re in 100% agreement.

        1. Well, fewer poor people, anyway.

          1. Well, fewer poor people, anyway.

            The Soviets had the darnedest time with that one. They’d kill em all off, and a new wave of poor people would come right on in from the middle class!

          2. I don’t agree. People don’t value what they don’t pay for. Even if they pay very little for it, they value it far more than if it was free (the whole theory behind small copays) Removing the copays might actually lead to a reduce in the efficacy of birth control methods because people won’t value the medication as much. And if you have to take something daily, that requires a high emotional investment and the benefits besides that aren’t linked to cost effectiveness are far in the future. Not next month.

            Time will tell on this one, but it’s a theory I’ve been kicking around a bit in my mind.

            1. Actually, considering how poorly consumer economics and civics are taught in this country, I think the fatal flaw in my vision would be the requisite educational effort needed to nurture cooperation, so I guess we’ll just have to keep paying for the welfare and/or incarceration of a large underclass for generations to come.

  8. Breyer cared more about not looking like he was against “women’s choices” than actually standing up for the freedom to offer whatever benefits you want as a business owner.

    Craven.

  9. “Keep your theology off my biology!”

    Keep your hand off my wallet, bitch.

    1. Only people they don’t like have a theology.

      1. They really can’t see the forest for the trees. They don’t understand that a person is unfree if he’s forced to pay for every little item other people want.

        Or they don’t care.

        1. They don’t see this as a Peter vs. Paul issue, it’s David and Goliath. A big, faceless corporation wants to deprive women of their access to birth control (ignoring for a moment the train of baggage left unpacked in that statement), and so in opposing today’s ruling they’re in fact standing up for individuals. The notion that individuals don’t spontaneously lose freedoms after hiring their fiftieth employee doesn’t cross their mind.

          1. It’s like they believe enterprising individuals go into business to improve the material well being of others rather than themselves.

            Adam Smith demonstrated the silliness of that notion long ago.

            Hell, you’d think common sense would have clued them in to begin with.

  10. I have a grudging respect for the Dems, that they can make so much hay for 3 years running (and counting) over such a made up issue.

    1. And they would have us enable a Hillary foreign policy over some pet social issue, just because she’s not a Republican.

  11. If the decision is so horrible for employees, how is it they might not notice but for Durbin’s laws? The insurers must provide the coverage if the employers opt out, so ACA means that the insured employees won’t see any disruption.

    1. Because politicians like Durbin know there is no limit to the numbers of nonthinking, emotionally-reactive voters.

  12. Coverage disclosures are given to all employees. They should be given to applicants, too. Oddly, they aren’t a priority despite being 20% of your earnings.

  13. From a Canadian non-progressive: you retards! You retards! You will get single payer and you will have to pay for pther people’s retardation as well as your own.
    How will Canada pay for its welfare state when America must pay fully for its own?

  14. “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,”

    Using the color of law to violate their freedom of speech after losing your bid to violate their freedom of conscience. Stay classy, Durbin.

  15. There was a ridiculous media blitz of a similar fashion a couple years ago in Canada regarding gay marriage. You can google the articles, but basically there was a lesbian divorce case for a foreign couple where they found some glaring legal issues in the way that marriage and divorce laws are structured for non-residents. Anyway, cue the CBC, half the media, and the collective Canadian noosphere of FB screaming that this was some attempt by the Tories to destroy gay marriage. There really is no need of evidence for some people. It’s just easier to project your own bias and insecurities onto reality and work from there.

  16. “Democrats are also likely to lean on the decision in their get-out-the-vote efforts this November.”

    Of course. What else are they going to run on – the economy? Foreign policy?

    1. The World Cup?

      USMNT, comprised of several german born players who were inspired by Barack Obama’s courageous speech in Berlin in 2008, emerge from group of death.

  17. “But this does help explain, at least somewhat, why the administration was so eager to pursue the case.”

    I think you’re projecting, Suderman.

    The Obama Administration pursued a policy that angered Catholics all over the country–to take effect in an election year, no less–for the same reason he traded five Taliban for someone who seems to have been a deserter.

    …Obama did it because he’s incompetent! He doesn’t even know what’s in his own best interests! This used to happen with Bush, too, where every time he made a major mistake, people started projecting some novel new legal theory on his blunders–as if it were all part of some ingenious master plan.

    There was no master plan. And I assure you, if he has any plan at all, it isn’t ingenious. Obama screwed up! Obama didn’t needlessly anger Catholics in an election year because he’s ingenious. He did it because he’s stupid. He’s a stupid man, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing–and his advisers are completely tone deaf.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to the rift in the Democratic Party if all these special interests groups keep going after religious organizations–especially Catholic ones. All those Catholic Mexicans and Central Americans think the progressives are on their side?!

    Ha!

  18. “It’s disgusting: The Supreme Court just ruled that corporations can deny women insurance coverage for birth control,”

    If we had a real media, they’d all be pointing out how that is just a 100% untrue statement.

    1. I think it’s fair to say that we have a media that is hostile to the First Amendment as presently constituted.

      I keep hearing people talk about this as if a) free exercise were novel (as if Wisconsin vs. Yoder never happened?) and as if b) free exercise weren’t part of the First Amendment…

      Tell the left to check for themselves. Look it up on Snopes, or something, but free exercise has been sitting in the First Amendment, hiding in plain sight, all this time!

      I think a lot of progressives convinced themselves after the SC upheld the individual mandate that nobody’s rights exist if they conflict with whatever Obama wants to do.

      Actually, I’m kinda surprised to see the SC do the right thing myself. Post-Obama, there may be some of America left after all.

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