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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 15, 2014 / 17 Tammuz, 5774

Dems on Hobby Lobby: 'Misspeaks' 'opinion' and overheated rhetoric

By Glenn Kessler




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Really, we should be afraid of this court. The five guys who start determining what contraceptions are legal. Let's not even go there."

— House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), at her weekly news conference, on July 10

In the wake of the Supreme Court's 5-to-4 ruling that, as a closely held company, Hobby Lobby was not required to pay for all of the birth-control procedures mandated by the Affordable Care Act, Democrats have rushed to condemn the court. But in some cases the rhetoric has gotten way ahead of the facts.

Here's a round-up of some of the more noteworthy claims. In some cases, lawmakers concede that they make a mistake; in others, they are argue that they are offering what amounts to opinion, even though the assertion was stated as fact.

Statements on Supreme Court cases are notoriously difficult to fact check because rulings are open to interpretation - and the full impact is often difficult to judge until lower courts begin to react to the ruling. Both Democrats and Republicans use adverse Supreme Court rulings to rally their respective bases, but lawmakers have a responsibility not to succumb to overheated and inaccurate rhetoric.

Nothing in the ruling allows a company to stop a woman from getting or filling a prescription for contraceptives, but that salient fact is often lost as lawmakers jump to conclusions that the cost will be prohibitive. That may or may not be the case depending on circumstances. Moreover, it is worth remembering that when the Affordable Care Act was passed, 28 states already had laws or regulations that promote insurance coverage for contraception. The law sought to extend that across the country — and even with this ruling, that will remain the case for the vast majority of workers.

"Really, we should be afraid of this court. The five guys who start determining what contraceptions are legal. Let's not even go there."

— Pelosi

This is a very odd statement from the House Democratic leader, given that the majority opinion flatly states that "under our cases, women (and men) have a constitutional right to obtain contraceptives," citing the 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, which under the right to privacy nullified a law prohibiting the use of contraceptives.

Drew Hammill, Pelosi's spokesman, acknowledged that she "misspoke." "Obviously the impact of the court's decision is not to make these four contraceptive methods illegal - i.e. no longer allowed to be sold", he said. "But the overriding point here is that the decision does in fact limit access, which is the key point Pelosi made."

Hammill cited Justice Ruth Ginsburg's dissent that women have a compelling interest in being able to plan their pregnancies and that they need reliable birth control.

Later, in the same news conference, Pelosi decried that "five men could get down to specifics of whether a woman should use a diaphragm and she should pay for it herself or her boss."

Hobby Lobby involved the owners' objection to four types of birth control but not diaphragms, but here Pelosi adhered closer to the essence of the case (and a related temporary injunction the court awarded to Wheaton College): the question of who should pay for contraceptives. (The court also vacated a decision by an appeals court that had ruled against a Michigan company that objected to providing any contraceptives under its employee health plan, so that would include diaphragms.)

Ginsburg's dissent pointed out that it costs $1,000 for the office visit and insertion procedure for intrauterine devices (IUDs) — "nearly the equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."

Our colleagues at PolitiFact gave Pelosi a rating of "false" for her comments, and we certainly agree, though we generally do not award Pinocchios when politicians fess up to a mistake.

Still, we note that despite her office's admission of a mistake, the transcript of the news conference had not yet been corrected three days later. "It will be," Hammill said. "We're migrating to a new site in the next two weeks, so everything is a little slow."

"The one thing we are going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women's lives are not determined by virtue of five white men. This Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous, and we are going to do something about it."

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), remarks to reporters, on July 8

The Hobby Lobby decision was written by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. That's certainly five men, but Thomas is African American.

"That was a mistake, and he knew it right away," spokesman Adam Jentleson said. He noted that on other occasions Reid has simply said "five men." (The four dissenters included three women.)

"This is deeply troubling because you have organized religions that oppose health care, period. So if you have an employer who is a member of an organized religion and they decide, you know, I wouldn't provide health care to my own family because I object religiously, I'm not going to allow any kind of health-care treatment."

— Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Democratic National Committee chair, appearing on MSNBC, June 30

While there are some religions that object to certain medical procedures, Wasserman Schultz goes to quite an extreme to suggest that employers could block an employee from seeking any kind of health-care treatment. (Again, the issue was who would pay for contraceptives, not whether someone was barred from getting contraceptives.)

"The Chair was referring to the Justice's ruling which puts employers' religious beliefs ahead of the medical needs of employees," spokesman Michael Czin said. "We fundamentally disagree with the logic behind that ruling."

"[In Griswold v. Connecticut,] the Supreme Court said that the right of privacy of individuals and families trumped any state right to ban contraceptives. It was a breakthrough. They found privacy, at least the inference of privacy, in the Constitution. I asked that question repeatedly of Justice Roberts and Justice Alito to make sure that they would honor that same tradition of privacy. The Hobby lobby decision violates that fundamental premise. [While both justices were careful in their answers before confirmation,] they both said they stood by the Griswold decision."

— Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), quoted in ABC's "The Note," July 10

Durbin serves on the Judiciary Committee and is the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate. Here, he appears to come close to saying what Pelosi asserted — that the ruling signaled a possible ban on contraceptives. He specifically mentions the Griswold decision, which as we noted was cited by Alito in the majority opinion as settled law.

But a Durbin spokeswoman said he was not trying to say the court was on a path to overturn Griswold. "He was saying Hobby Lobby was out of line with the general 'tradition of privacy' that permitted women to make their own choices about birth control," she said, asking not to be identified. "He was critiquing this ruling and its impact on women's access to contraceptive coverage, not making a prediction about future cases."

"The U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into our private lives. Coloradans understand that women should never have to ask their bosses for a permission slip to access common forms of birth control."

— Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), in a news release, July 9

Udall's remarks were contained in a news release he issued with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) about a bill that seeks to overturn the Hobby Lobby decision. There is a bit of an irony here: Udall voted for the Affordable Care Act, which built upon the employer-based health-care system in the United States and thus led to a ruling by the Supreme Court in the first place. So it's a chicken-or-egg question about how the door was opened in the first place.

Again, the issue is not whether women will have access to birth control, but whether the health plan will cover the cost. Spokesman Mike Saccone argues that this is, in effect, "a permission slip."

"Following the court's decision, women will need to effectively ask their employers if they will continue to cover contraception," Saccone said. "They will need to determine if their boss will give permission for their insurance plans to cover birth control."

He added: "Without insurance coverage, IUDs (what Hobby Lobby objects to covering) cost up to $1,000, which poses a huge barrier for women, especially if she is making the minimum wage. Without her boss's permission to get coverage for that service in her health plan, it becomes much more — potentially prohibitively — expensive for that woman."

"Before the Hobby Lobby decision, the fight against corporate influence was mainly about making sure real people and their ideas were in charge of elections. But now it is no longer just about a democracy; it is about keeping corporations out of our private lives, out of our bedrooms, and out of our religious decisions."

— Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), statement in the Congressional Record, July 10

Here again, a lawmaker mixes up the question of paying for contraceptives with a broader prohibition against all contraceptives.



"If an employer doesn't cover contraceptive care, for many women access to birth control is effectively blocked because it becomes cost-prohibitive," argued spokesman Dan Malessa. "If an employer refuses to cover contraceptives based on its religious views, then its religious views trump the religious views of its employees."

"You know, what I am objecting to is that these bosses should not be able to tell their employees that they cannot use birth control. Motherhood is not a hobby. That is what I am objecting to."

—Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.), speaking on MSNBC, July 1

Moore also falls into the trap of claiming that corporate bosses can now dictate whether women can have access to birth control. No boss under this ruling has the right to tell an employee that they cannot use birth control. That's simply wrong, but Moore's spokeswoman argued this is open to interpretation.

"Congresswoman Moore was referring to the Supreme Court decision that now allows certain employers to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees through employer-sponsored health care plans. By denying this coverage to their employees, many workers may not have the financial means to access this health care necessity," spokeswoman Staci Cox said. "To your point on the Hobby Lobby decision concerning only certain forms of contraceptive coverage, the congresswoman would argue that the ruling opens the door for employers to challenge other vital health-care coverage, not limited to the four contraceptives you mentioned."

"What they've done, Chris, is taken away the religious freedom of their employees. They have to comply with the religious freedom of their employers."

— Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), interview on MSNBC, June 30

Is Slaughter really saying that the court has taken away an employee's religious freedom because some contraceptives may not be covered by insurance? Eric Walker, her spokesman, says this is a matter of opinion.

"By forcing an employee to live with the religious choices imposed on them by their employer, the employee's own religious freedom is infringed upon," Walker said. "I think it's fair to say that 'freedom from religion' goes hand in hand with 'religious freedom.' The first amendment protects Americans from having religion thrust upon them by others — a standard the court failed to uphold, in the congresswoman's opinion."

The Pinocchio Test

The Fact Checker generally does not award Pinocchios for "misspeaking" or for statements of opinion. And we obviously take no position on the Supreme Court opinion. But this collection of rhetoric suggests that Democrats need to be more careful in their language about the ruling. All too often, lawmakers leap to conclusions that are not warranted by the facts at hand. Simply put, the court ruling does not outlaw contraceptives, does not allow bosses to prevent women from seeking birth control and does not take away a person's religious freedom.

Certainly, a case can be made that perhaps this is a slippery slope (as Ginsburg argues in dissent) or that the cost of some contraceptives may be prohibitively high for some women who need them. But the rhetoric needs to be firmly rooted in these objections — and in many cases the Democratic response has been untethered from those basis facts.

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An award-winning journalism career spanning nearly three decades, Glenn Kessler has covered foreign policy, economic policy, the White House, Congress, politics, airline safety and Wall Street. He was The Washington Post's chief State Department reporter for nine years, traveling around the world with three different Secretaries of State. Before that, he covered tax and budget policy for The Washington Post and also served as the newspaper's national business editor. Kessler has long specialized in digging beyond the conventional wisdom, such as when he earned a "laurel" from the Columbia Journalism Review



Previously:

06/30/14: The letter that supposedly led to the crash of Lois Lerner's hard drive

05/19/14: Obama touts new efficiency rules in 'Year of Action,' after years of delays

05/12/14: Obama busted for false facts on Republicans' filibusters

04/02/14: A Democratic attack ad tries to connect the dots, and earns 4 Pinocchios

03/31/14: Presidential deceptions --- and their consequences (Incl. video)

03/03/14: Harry Reid's claim that the 'vast majority' of AFPs Obamacare ads are 'lies'

02/25/14: Obama's claim that 7 million got 'access to health care for the first time' because of his Medicaid expansion

02/11/14: Durbin's claim that 10 million now have health insurance because of Obamacare

01/29/14: Fact Checking the 2014 State of the Union address

01/06/14: The White House's claim that 7 million enrolled in Obamacare 'was never our target number'

01/06/14: Schumer's claims about Democratic and GOP efforts to 'fix' Obamacare

12/12/13: Harry Reid's explanation for why not all of his staff is going on 'Obamacare'

09/05/13: History lesson: When the United States looked the other way on chemical weapons

07/09/13: George W. Bush returns as a uniter

06/11/13: Obama's claim of 500,000 manufacturing jobs, month after month

05/15/13: Prez's claim he called Benghazi an 'act of terrorism'

02/21/13: Obama and early childhood education: a rhetorical leap of faith

02/14/13: Fact checking the 2013 State of the Union speech

10/23/11: Fact Checking the Final Debate

07/10/11: Obama's misleading tweet on Romney's taxes

02/21/11: The claim that 98 percent of Catholic women use contraception: a media foul

12/29/11: Ron Paul and Ronald Reagan (Fact Checker biography)

12/08/11: Romney versus Gingrich: a Super PAC's over-the-top ad

12/08/11: Obama's Kansas speech: some suspect facts

11/18/11: The Obama campaign's spin on the Romney tax plan

09/27/11: Obama' strained symbolism at an Ohio River bridge

08/25/11: Obama's claim that GOP is holding up trade deals

08/11/11: Obama's claim that the debt problem can ‘go away’

06/22/11: AARP's misleading ad about balancing the budget

05/24/11: A rare Geppetto for Paul Ryan's assertion on Obama's hidden top marginal tax rate

05/16/11:Obama administration boasting about border security

05/11/11: Kathleen Sebelius's outrageous claim that cancer patients would 'die sooner' under the GOP Medicare plan

05/09/11: A gusher of oil rhetoric

05/04/11: The Obama administration's odd claims on export growth

04/28/11: How effective are sanctions in ‘changing behavior’?

04/14/11: ‘Biggest cuts in U.S. history’? Well, no.

04/08/11: Nancy Pelosi's absurd math on senior citizens losing their meals

04/06/11: Hillary Clinton's uncredible statement on Syria

03/25/11: Libya, Obama and the tragedy in Darfur

03/22/11: Gifts of bogus statistics for the health-care law's birthday

03/21/11: Mitch McConnell's not-so-happy birthday greetings for the health care law

03/10/11: A job-loss statistic produced out of thin air

03/10/17: A budget analogy that earns a Geppetto checkmark

03/10/11: Four pinocchios for the American public on the budget

03/09/11: Obama and the White House's ‘halfway’ fixation with the budget

03/08/11: Foreign policy braggadocio on Libya and AIDS

03/07/11: Democrats keep misleading on claimed budget ‘cuts’

03/01/11: Mike Huckabee is on to something here, but jumped the gun

02/25/11: Harry Reid's illusory $41 billion in budget cuts


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