Senate Republicans Block Congress From Reversing The Hobby Lobby Decision
Ever since the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the Hobby Lobby case in favor of corporations and against the rights of women to control their own health care decisions, legislators have gone to work to reverse the ruling and keep bosses out of the bedroom. Today, Senate Democrats Patty Murray of Washington and Mark Udall of Colorado introduced legislation, which has become known as the “Not My Bosses’ Business Act,” that would prevent for-profit businesses from dropping birth control coverage by clarifying that no federal law allows companies to refuse to follow Obamacare’s contraception mandate.
Unfortunately, a minority of Senators–all Republicans–voted to block the bill from going forward. But despite Republican obstruction, conservatives know that they are out-of-touch politically on this issue. Unexpectedly, three Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mark Kirk (IL), and Susan Collins (ME), joined Democrats in voting for the bill.
Additionally, Republicans are planning to offer their own legislation in response to Hobby Lobby–but it really is just a plot to convince people they support birth control. ThinkProgress’s Tara Culp-Ressler reports:
According to Republican leadership, the GOP-sponsored bill will state that “no employer can block any employee from legal access to her FDA-approved contraceptives.” However, that wouldn’t actually do anything to change the current reproductive rights landscape. The Hobby Lobby case wasn’t about the legality of birth control; it related to whether for-profit companies should have the right to drop insurance coverage for contraception, a move that would require women to pay for the full cost of their birth control out of pocket.
These games aside, Mitch McConnell’s recent comments at a small business while campaigning in Kentucky basically declaring workplace sexism to be a thing of the past do a better job of summarizing the conservative thinking on issues related to women’s health and economic rights. “I could be wrong, but most of the barriers have been lowered,” McConnell said. “We’ve come a long way in pay equity, and there are a ton of women CEOs now running major companies.” He added that he doesn’t think that women deserve “preferential treatment.”
As we have written before, the Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby was a case of judicial activism. For many years, the high court has maintained a balance between protecting religious liberty and maintaining the rule of law in a pluralistic society. Hobby Lobby, however, upended that balance: the rights of the employer now trump the rights of the employee and that is a slippery slope. The majority decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, is sadly unsurprising, given that he and Chief Justice John Roberts are considered to be the two most business-friendly justices ever.
BOTTOM LINE: A minority of Senators may have blocked the “Not My Boss’s Business Act”, but today’s vote was just the first step in the effort to ensure that bosses cannot impose their religious beliefs on women’s health care decisions. Conservatives are out of touch on this issue. Now we must make sure that the legislators who stand in the way of allowing women to have control over their own health care decisions are held accountable for their choice.