Chad’s Morning Brief: U.S. Supreme Court and the Hobby Lobby Case, Texas Democrats Meet in Dallas, and Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of June 30, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
SCOTUS and Hobby Lobby
What all is riding on the Supreme Court’s decision today in the Hobby Lobby case? National Journal lays it all out.
The Supreme Court won’t strike down Obamacare’s contraception mandate, but a ruling for the law’s challengers could still render the policy toothless for millions of women.
The justices are set to rule any day now in a challenge to the birth-control mandate, and any decision against the policy would have ripple effects far beyond the two companies that filed this lawsuit. Just how far, however, depends on how broadly the Court rules—and it has plenty of options.
No matter what happens, the Court won’t strike down the entire mandate. The two companies that brought their challenge to the Supreme Court—Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties—haven’t asked the justices to ax the entire policy.
The most sweeping option is a broad First Amendment proclamation that all corporations have a fundamental right to exercise religion, in this case by refusing to cover birth control in their employees’ health care plans. This outcome would be almost a sequel to the Citizens Unitedcase on campaign finance laws and free speech. It would probably open the door for any company to challenge a slew of state or federal regulations, and would allow any corporation to avoid the contraception mandate—potentially affecting millions of women.
(Many employers, however, particularly large companies, probably wouldn’t want to cut contraception coverage. It’s a popular benefit and far cheaper than covering a pregnancy or a baby.)
But a sweeping First Amendment ruling might not be the most likely option, based on the questions Justice Anthony Kennedy asked during oral arguments and Chief Justice John Roberts’s general preference for narrower decisions. The Court could easily go smaller if it sides with Hobby Lobby.
Both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are closely held companies, controlled entirely or almost entirely by their owners. The libertarian Cato Institute suggested in a supporting brief that because these two companies are controlled by their owners, the Court could rule in their favor without setting a broader precedent that corporations in general can practice religion.
A decision limited to closely held corporations could be a way to skirt the outcome liberals fear most—a broad and explicit expansion of corporate personhood. But it would still allow a significant number of employers to exclude birth control from their health plans, affecting an untold number of female workers and their dependents.
“Look, it’s going to be real. It will be [a] real number,” said Louise Melling, deputy director at the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed briefs defending the birth-control mandate.
Of course, the justices could also rule that the mandate is completely legal, in which case nothing changes and the world just keeps on spinning like it is now.
I could see the Supreme Court ruling either way on this one. I hope they rule for Hobby Lobby though.
Dems in Dallas
The Texas Democratic Convention was held over the weekend and while Wendy Davis urged supporters to toss out the “good old boy network”, Democrats were split in their focus according to the Dallas Morning News. While some Democrats were all about Wendy Davis, others were more focused on the future.
Two Texas Democratic parties gathered this weekend in Dallas — one focused on the present, the other preparing for the future.
For the Wendy Davis stalwarts festooned in orange T-shirts and star-spangled hats and buttons, the party’s state convention was all about November. They sought to energize women and begin winning over persuadable, moderate voters this year to make the Fort Worth senator the next governor.
For groups like Battleground Texas, which aim to make the state competitive long term, the focus was on organizing a growing, reliable database of voters, including Hispanics, a process that could take years.
While the goals often overlap, the tension over priorities was frequently in evidence at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
Near the table selling Wendy Davis for Governor 2014 T-shirts was the Ready for Hillary booth, with its attention on the next presidential race. On Saturday, while Davis herself sought out true believers for November, Battleground Texas was holding a workshop that looked a lot at building for the future.
Delegate Fernando Rojas of Dallas said reversing two decades of Republican political fortunes in Texas is likely to take time. “We definitely have a challenge,” he said. “But I know the future is ours.”
Davis made it clear the future is now. Making the rounds of delegate caucuses, she dismissed that she’s trailing in the polls and fundraising, comparing her long-shot bid to beat veteran Republican officeholder Greg Abbott to U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s unexpected primary loss this month to an insurgent challenger in Virginia.
“I’m telling people Eric Cantor’s famous last words — ‘But I was up 34 percent in the polls,’” Davis told delegates Saturday.
The comment also pointed to a simple truth: The disagreements Texas Democrats have, nearly two decades out of power, are muted in comparison with the split among Republicans, where tea party and establishment forces are openly fighting over the future of the party.
The Ready for Hillary booth in the exhibition hall was, perhaps, the clearest sign that some at the convention have their sights set on 2016 and beyond. The group is an independent political committee formed by supporters who hope Hillary Rodham Clinton will run for president.
Regina Montoya, a Dallas lawyer and hospital executive who worked in former President Bill Clinton’s administration, was volunteering at the booth Saturday. She said the organizational efforts around Davis and lieutenant governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte will help prepare an army of supporters for Clinton should she seek the White House.
“We want the enthusiasm level for these great strong women from 2014 to 2016, and that’s what this effort is about,” Montoya said.
At least some Democrats know that 2014 is not the year for them. You can read the rest of the story by clicking the link above.
Other Top Stories:
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