Monday, June 30, 2014


Most bizarre mainstream media response to the Hobby Lobby decision, from Adam Nagourney of The New York Times:

Really? Nagourne thinks Republicans with national ambitions will try to distance themselves from this ruling to win over independent women? Republicans will national ambitions just don't do that sort of thing. With their angry base, they can't. That's why they keep losing presidential elections.

How do people as oblivious as Nagourney manage to keep high-paying jobs writing about a subject they clearly don't understand?


I think Nagourney is wrong about 2014 as well -- I think this decision will remind a lot of Democratic voters that there's a reason to keep voting Democratic, even in midterms. The decision just reeks of ignorance, paternalism, contempt, and condescension. And I don't think either conservatives or political insiders quite get that. They can't imagine that this comes off as a double whammy of woman-shaming and cheapness, with bosses in a crappy economy denying female workers one more crumb and saying they're doing it because anyone who wants that crumb is morally contemptible.

I'm reminded of 2012, when another misogynist old man, Rush Limbaugh -- a guy who usually knows exactly what he can get away with saying -- thought he could unleash both barrels on Sandra Fluke without consequence. Limbaugh just couldn't imagine that openly lobbying for birth control access didn't make Fluke a repellent tramp in the eyes of the larger American culture. The mainstream press didn't get it either, although the Obama administration did: Fluke spoke at the 2012 Democratic convention, which was full of talk about social issues, and Melinda Hennenberger, the "She the People" blogger for The Washington Post, thought it was all too much -- here's Hennenberger echoing the Daily Caller's reference to the convention as "Abortion-palooza." The Village may have turned up itys nose at this, but the electorate didn't.

Vox's Sarah Kliff notes that Harry Reid plans to propose a legislative response to this ruling -- which, of course, will be DOA in the House, but at least it will frame the question for potential midterm voters.

As Kliff points out,
In the Supreme Court ruling, Justice Sam Alito did suggest that Obama administration could increase access to birth control in ways that would not violate corporations' religious liberties. Alito specifically pointed to the compromise worked out with religiously-affiliated colleges and universities — where the insurer, rather than the employer, pays for contraceptive coverage — as one such path forward.
This is where the right hopes to stay on offense -- as Hugh Hewitt writes:
As for whether the president and his team will continue to try and invade the conscience rights of a free people, of course it will, but that's why this November’s election will be so crucial and why today's decision a major victory in a never-ending struggle to preserve religious liberty.
In other words, the right is going to try to say that this decision isn't a permanent victory, and righties had better keep fighting (and voting). But it's ordinary women who've been isulted, sexually and financially, and I'm cautiously optimistic that that will be remembered in November. The focus really could be on control of the Senate, especially when a Supreme Court vacancy might come up in the next two years. (I still think Republicans will seek to filibuster any Court pick President Obama puts up in his final two years, but I think an Obama pick has a better shot under those circumstances, where the focus will be on the majority being thwarted, than with a GOP Senate, which will just vote any pick down.)


I'm less optimistic about the near-term effect of today's other big ruling, in Harris v. Quinn, which concerned a seemingly small, unrepresentative sector of the workforce:
The plaintiff in the case is Pamela Harris, of Illinois, who provides in-home care for her 25-year-old son with disabilities and receives compensation for it from the state’s Medicaid program. This is a common arrangement, designed to make it possible to assist family members who care for relatives with serious illnesses. But in Illinois, as in a few other states, there's a twist.

In 2003, the governor declared all home health care workers to be public employees. The theory behind the decision was that the workers are getting much of their money from the government, in the form of Medicaid. The widely understood idea was to make it easier for them to organize into a union, since government doesn't fight organizing drives the way private companies do. The state's employees eventually voted to do just that, joining the Service Employees International Union. As a result, Harris must pay a portion of SEIU's membership dues -- an administrative fee, in order to support the bargaining the SEIU does on behalf of employees -- even if she opts not to join the organization formally. She's not happy about that, so she filed a lawsuit.
Needless to say, the Supremes agreed with her -- but they didn't go so far as to overturn the automatic deduction of dues from the checks of other public sector workers, although that's clearly what's coming next:
A 1977 Supreme Court decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, upheld automatic deduction of dues as long as the money is not used for political purposes.

At oral argument, the [National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation] urged the Justices to overturn that decision. The court did not do so -- though the majority refers to its "foundations" as "questionable" -- but it did make it substantially harder for public sector unions to organize....

By calling the Abood decision "questionable," the conservative majority may very well be signalling its intention to overrule it in the future....
Yup, that's what's going to happen. It's John Roberts playing the long game again, dismantling legal frameworks he and his fellow right-wingers dislike brick by brick. However, this doesn't seem like enough of an outrage to motivate Democratic voters -- though I'd love to be wrong about that.


Phil Perspective said...

However, this doesn't seem like enough of an outrage to motivate Democratic voters -- though I'd love to be wrong about that.

Isn't that really up to the unions? After all, Rahmbo is doing his own union busting in Chicago. And some Democrats are trying to do in Philly.

Steve M. said...

Yup, and Democrats helped Christie do it in Jersey.

Victor said...

Note to women in 2014 and 2016:

While you still can.

aimai said...

Christ what a selfish woman she was, to take special money and be paid for what she would have had to do for free and then turn around and bite the hands of the other workers who do the same work as she does, and who fight for payments to her. When she needs home health care herself and she has no family member to do it for her I hope she looks back on how she stripped union protections from the impoverished woman who comes to help her and hangs her fucking head in shame.

Bulworth said...

Sarah Kliff went to Vox? All these Villagers move around an awful lot.