War Is Hell
I’ve written before about a Republican Congressional focus on women’s health issues instead of on jobs. After that article was written, a number of well-publicized incidents turned that ill-conceived (!) focus on women’s reproductive issues into a full-fledged Republican War on Women meme.
A CBS/New York Times poll released yesterday showed Mitt Romney with an eight point lead among men and a five point deficit among women. (I would give you the raw numbers but the press release does not include crosstabs.)
A July Purple Strategies poll of swing state voters — their “swing states” are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin — has President Obama leading Governor Romney 47–45 percent. Among women in those states, Obama leads Romney 52–42 while among men, he trails 41–50. This “gender gap” is a consistent 12-point advantage among females in Colorado, Ohio and Virginia (50–38, 51–39, 52–40, respectively), while the advantage among women is “only” seven points in Florida, at 51–44. Even though the so-called War on Women was hot back in February and March 2012, the gender gap has stayed consistently high for four months, indicating that the meme has taken hold on public consciousness.
Republicans charged that the Obama Administration was forcing religious institutions to cover contraceptive services against their will. (As I’ve written before, this is actually an updating of laws passed by Congress in 1964 and 1978, and reaffirmed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2000. Federal employees were merely putting the old existing rule into the context of brand-new Obamacare.)
In February, seven states’ Attorneys General sued the Obama Administration (the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor). Led by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, it also included the states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Individual plaintiffs were also included, who claimed they were harmed by the proposed rule.
A Federal District Court ruling in Omaha, Nebraska, released Tuesday, smacked the plaintiffs pretty hard.
You may remember Nebraska Attorney General Bruning as the not-conservative-enough choice in the May Nebraska Republican U.S. Senate primary where State Senator Deb Fischer mopped the floor with both Bruning (who came in second) and the Club for Growth-approved State Treasurer, Don Stenberg, 41–36-19. Bruning did not file the lawsuit just to score political points with the voters, I’m sure. In any case, the strategy failed miserably.
Federal District Court Judge Warren Urbom pointed out the extreme weakness in the plaintiff’s entire case, ruling they both lacked standing and the case lacked ripeness. Judge Urbom is a Nixon appointee, so he’s clearly exhibiting liberal judicial activism. From Judge Urbom’s ruling issued Tuesday July 17:
Because the Rule does not apply to grandfathered plans, however, the organizational plaintiffs face no “coercion” (or any other imminent injury traceable to the Rule) unless their current plans are not grandfathered. The complaint does not allege facts showing that the organizational plaintiffs’ plans are not grandfathered, and therefore those plaintiffs have not established their standing to sue.
In short, the individual plaintiffs have not shown that their current health plans will be required to cover contraception-related services under the Rule, and therefore their claims must be dismissed for lack of standing.
Judge Urbom went on to say, in quite strong terms, that the plaintiffs were full of beans and that in any case the beans were not ripe, that is, nothing bad has happened to them or likely will happen to them so they can’t show they were harmed in any way:
In summary, although the Rule that lies at the heart of the plaintiffs’ complaint establishes a definitive, final definition of “religious employer,” the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirements are not being enforced against non-exempted religious organizations, and the Rule is currently undergoing a process of amendment to accommodate these organizations. The plaintiffs face no direct and immediate harm, and one can only speculate whether the plaintiffs will ever feel any effects from the Rule when the temporary enforcement safe harbor terminates. This case clearly involves “contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all[.]”
None of the plaintiffs have established that they have standing to challenge the Rule, and even if I were to assume that they did have standing, their claims are not ripe.
The Republican Attorneys General, undaunted by this strong repudiation of their case, soldiered on, vowing to continue the legal fight.
Bruning issued a statement which said: “Today’s decision completely disregards the federal government’s continued shell game when it comes to this rule. Essentially, this decision asks millions of Americans to watch and wait for their religious liberties to be violated.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt also issued a statement. “This was not a ruling on whether the religious mandate violates the First Amendment, but merely a decision on whether the plaintiffs can file a lawsuit at this time. The violations need to be heard and the federal government held accountable.”
Pruitt must have read a different decision than I quoted above, or he’s just hoping if he blows enough smoke people will believe him.
Romney’s team is clearly worried about his standing among women. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have floated a Condi Rice trial balloon using their stenographer, Matt Drudge. While we’ve all been distracted by his Bain-dead political tone-deafness, the Republican War on Women appears to be entering its trench warfare phase.
- Federal judge dismisses challenge to health care contraception provision (jurist.org)
- Judge Rejects Contraception Suit Filed by 7 States (abcnews.go.com)
- Affordable Care Act Birth Control Mandate Passes Court Review (huffingtonpost.com)
- Birth-Control Mandate Survives States’ Suit (bloomberg.com)
- Take Your Religious Freedom & Shove It!… Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Against ObamaTax HHS Mandate (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Judge Dismisses Giant, Whiny Lawsuit Claiming Obamacare Violates Religious … — Jezebel (jezebel.com)