Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision will likely be a winning issue for Begich

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision to allow corporations such as Hobby Lobby, which brought the case, to opt out of the ObamaCare birth control mandate for religious reasons. The decision has huge implications, not only for ObamaCare mandates, but perhaps for companies who, in the future, have religious objections to workers vaccinations, or psychiatric care, or blood transfusions, all of which are also in conflict with certain religious beliefs.

It’s also likely to be used as a further wedge between the two parties, something to which we will likely get a front-row seat in the upcoming election. (Below are some reactions from Alaska’s pols to the ruling.) It’s no secret that Republicans have a women problem generally, and specifically a young, single women’s problem, exactly that group that will be most affected by the ruling. This, at least in the rest of the country, is sure to ad ammunition to the charge of the Republican “War on Women.”

How much of an affect will this have on Alaskans? Hard to say for sure. I’ve spoken to one Republican strategist who doesn’t think that the problem translates up here. There are so few single women, he told me, and many of the ones that are in Alaska are in the military, a group which tends to lean Republican.

He might be right in the Republican primary at least. The general election is a different story. All three Republican candidates who are vying for their party’s nomination support the decision. Sen. Mark Begich does not.

Begich knows the electorate better than anyone running, and he’s got one of the very best political pollsters in the country—Celinda Lake--working for him. Begich might very well hold deep beliefs about women’s reproductive rights which transcend his political aspirations. But if those beliefs weren’t popular in Alaska, I’d bet a lot on the fact that he wouldn’t be as outspoken about them as he is.

Support or objection to the vote alone will likely not move many Republican-leaning males Begich’s way. But it might very well move their wives, and their daughters. As I wrote in a previous piece, there are fewer women in Alaska, but they vote at a greater percentage than do men.

I’m betting that Begich knows things about them that the Republican candidates don’t.

Here are some excerpts from press releases about the ruling:

From Mark Begich:

I disagree with today’s Supreme Court decision. Bosses should not be able to prevent access to family planning and birth control for Alaska women. This is unacceptable. As Alaskans, we don’t want the government intruding into our lives and telling us how to make personal decisions.  Ninety-nine percent of women will use contraceptives at some point in their lives and this decision shows how out of touch the Supreme Court is with Alaskans. A woman’s health care decisions should be between herself and in consultation with her doctor. I will continue to fight to protect all Alaskans’ right to privacy and that includes a women’s right to make her own health care decisions.

From Gov. Sean Parnell:

I am pleased that the Supreme Court affirmed that the government does not have the right to dictate conscience. For those businesses whose actions are informed by their sacredly held religious convictions, this decision is particularly important. Federal regulatory overreach does not supersede one’s First Amendment rights.

From Joe Miller:

I am very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. While it is narrow in scope, the fact that business owners’ free exercise rights have been recognized is a step in the right direction. The Obama Administration’s chilling assault on the free exercise guaranteed in the First Amendment is outrageous, and all people of good faith, regardless of ideology, should see this as a triumph for Constitutional liberty… That Mark Begich stands by his flawed vote for ObamaCare, including the federal government’s ‘authority’ to trample over Alaskans First Amendment rights is shocking.

And to top it off, below is a list compiled by Mother Jones from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s blistering dissent. It’s also worth noting that not one woman justice joined the majority’s decision:

  • “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”
  • “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
  • “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
  • “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
  • “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”
  • “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
  • “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

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8 thoughts on “Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision will likely be a winning issue for Begich

  1. Anonymous

    Begich’s release is ridiculous spin. This is not an assault on women’s reproductive rights. No one is taking their rights away to get birth control. They just can’t force their employer to pay for it. It’s common sense. Why should anyone pay for another person’s birth control or abortions, which are more serious. Sadly, we do.

    Garand is right. I called people during the ’08 election who were staunch republicans and always votd for Ted and “couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a felon.” Begich doesn’t know the voters better than anyone. He lucked out on Ted’s timing of his conviction. He knows he is unpopular with the majority of Alaskans, because his votes are in-step with Obama, whose policies are very liberal. That’s why he takes a position on so few issues. And he says he “didn’t read the documents for the carbon tax issue,” when he was given the documents, like everyone else. Begich is a professional liar, a politician and unpopular with his constituents.

    Parnell and Miller are correct and the only ones who issued statements on point. This ruling is a victory for the first amendment rights of employers and it is not a war on women. It’s ludicrous to twist it to say that it is.

  2. John Smith

    I find it very hard to believe that the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby decision changes the fact that Mark Begich does not want to discuss his ACA (Obamacare) vote. The only reason we are having the discussion is because he voted in favor of it, and Alaskans do not like it. If he wants ACA to be a bigger issue in this race, I am sure the Republican he runs against would welcome the discussion.

    Also, I think it important to point out that the decision only effects certainly family owned businesses and that the Hobby Lobby issue was only in reference to 4 of the 20 mandated contraceptives. Namely those that would be considered an abortive measure in their view.

  3. Garand Fellow

    I disagree with two statements in this report. There is no evidence I can see that Begich knows the electorate better than anyone running, and Celinda Lake is not a good pollster and campaign manager for Alaska. Begich won in 2008 because at that moment Senator Stevens was a convicted felon. Going door to door for candidates that is what I was told; voters said they had ‘always voted for Ted but right now he cannot even own a gun and he’s a crook.’ Begich didn’t know the voters; he was merely lucky in timing.

    Everyone this year wants and intends to assemble the voters that the Lisa write-in used to win in 2010 but no one can do that without a Joe Miller looking stupid and fearsome as an opponent; not even Lisa could do it again without Joe. Begich has much more in common with McAdams (wasn’t that his name?) that Democrats threw over the side in order to vote for Lisa and defeat Joe Miller that November.

    Lake was the pollster and manager for the failed Ulmer campaign for governor back in 2002. She is a rabid supporter of gun registration and subsequent gun confiscation. Dollars Begich is paying to her will go to that mission and religion. Hiring Lake leads every Alaskan to question Begich’s credentials and true beliefs on the right to keep and bear arms. Remember, he also signed Anchorage on to the Bloomberg Mayor’s against Guns back when he was mayor. Begich looks as uncomfortable shooting a gun as he does riding a snowmobile, and no one who understands gun ownership and its importance would give a dime to Celinda Lake.

  4. Lynn Willis

    I can truly appreciate the irony of those who would praise and willing subscribe to a ruling the US Supreme Court while simultaneously damning “federal regulatory overreach” in the same press release.

  5. Marc Hellenthal

    According to our most recent poll. 20% of “Somewhat Likely” Republican Primary voter this August will be single women. If we tighten the criteria to “Absolutley Certain,” 13% are sngle women If we loosen it a bit to “Very Likely,” 15% of Primary voters will be single wormen.

    It is foolish for a political consultant to dismiss between 13% and 20% of Primary voters.

    Marc Hellenthal

  6. hoffman

    Great perspective. Thanks for the walk thru. After reading this story, I think that I’ll be voting Democratic in the senate race. I would like to vote demmocratic in the governor’s race but find Mallott totally uninspiring. Wish that Hollis French was running for governor.

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