Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Women And Unions Finally Have Bad Day In Washington

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The Supreme Court ruled that corporations don’t have to cover contraceptive methods they find objectionable, so we guess we’ll have to pay out of pocket for a sacrificial goat at our next fertility rite. Vance McAllister flip flopped and is actually running for re-election, though he nixed our proposed campaign slogan: "At Least I’m Not Scott DesJarlais." And Janet Yellen’s neighbors are upset with her security detail. Don't be surprised if the neighbors' dogs start quantitatively easing all over the Fed chair's lawn. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, June 30th, 2014:

HOBBY LOBBY: SUPREME COURT HANDS RELIGIOUS RIGHT A BIG VICTORY - Laura Bassett and Ryan Reilly: "A divided Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage for their employees. In an opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell that the Obama administration has failed to show that the contraception mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act is the 'least restrictive means of advancing its interest' in providing birth control at no cost to women... Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned craft supply chain store, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Store, a Pennsylvania wood manufacturer owned by a family of Mennonites, challenged the contraception mandate on the grounds that it violates their religious freedom by requiring them to pay for methods of contraception they find morally objectionable. The owners of those companies believe some forms of birth control -- emergency contraception and intrauterine devices -- are forms of abortion because they could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Monday's opinion was written narrowly so as only to apply to the contraception mandate, not to religious employers who object to other medical services, like blood transfusions or vaccines...'We will, of course, respect the Supreme Court ruling,' White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, adding that the administration will 'consider the range of options available to the president.' Earnest also called on Congress to make sure the women affected still have contraception coverage. 'Congress needs to take action to solve this problem that has been created,' he said." [HuffPost]

Ginsburgburn: "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sharply disagreed with the five conservatives on the court, delivering a scathing, 35-page dissent and defense of mandatory contraception coverage."'In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs,' Ginsburg wrote...'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,' she wrote." [Bassett]

DEMOCRATS PLAN RESPONSE TO HOBBY LOBBY RULING - Sam Stein: "The Obama administration and allied Democrats on the Hill quickly began exploring potential responses to the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to dramatically limit the contraception mandate in the president's health care law. A Senate Democratic leadership aide told The Huffington Post that the party was already crafting a bill to respond to the ruling, which said the government cannot force closely held corporations to pay for contraception coverage if their owners object on religious grounds. The range of options is fairly limited, aides cautioned, and they all present political hurdles. Still, Democratic leadership is eager to tackle the matter head-on, confident that public opinion is on their side. Moments after the 5-4 decision came down in the Hobby Lobby case on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) illustrated that defiant stance when he declared, 'If the Supreme Court will not protect women's access to health care, then Democrats will.' In actuality, the leadership aide said, party officials had begun strategizing how best to respond to a possible adverse ruling well before the court’s decision was announced. There are at least four types of regulatory or legislative fixes that Democrats might pursue. One would be to write a new regulation requiring an insurer to cover the cost of contraception that the corporation claiming a religious objection refused to cover. The second would be to have the government, in some fashion, cover the cost of that contraception. The third would be to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which was the basis of Hobby Lobby’s successful lawsuit) to specify that corporations are not granted certain protections given to individuals and others. The fourth would be to amend the statute in the opposite direction, by adding explicit language protecting individuals from having employers' religious beliefs imposed on them." [HuffPost]

It's like the Citizens United ruling, except people care this time: "Democrats eagerly pounced on the opportunity to tie the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision to some of this election cycle's highest-profile candidates...After the ruling, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a press release arguing that Senate hopefuls like North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) support 'radical, anti-woman measures that would go even further than today’s decision and block birth control access.' The measure the DSCC is referring to is personhood legislation, which would grant legal protections to fertilized human eggs. Such legislation could, in practice, ban some forms of birth control and in-vitro fertilization." [HuffPost]

THE NSA'S IN UR COMMUNICATIONS, STEALIN' UR CONTENT - Matt Sledge: "The nation's top intelligence agency revealed in a letter made public Monday that the NSA, CIA and FBI are engaging in a large number of warrantless searches of the content of Americans' communications caught up in collection on foreign targets. The letter, sent by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), also disclosed that there are large gaps in how the government tracks searches on Americans' communications -- and that the FBI simply does not track such searches at all. Those revelations immediately raised an alarm for Wyden, who has begged the NSA for years to reveal how many 'backdoor searches' it conducts, and on June 5 in Senate questioning pressed again for more detail. 'When the FBI says it conducts a substantial number of searches and it has no idea of what the number is, it shows how flawed this system is and the consequences of inadequate oversight,' Wyden said in a statement." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - "Although some Latinos struggle to afford the healthy food their families need, many are reluctant to take advantage of food stamps because of stigma, language issues and complex eligibility rules, advocates say. Maritza Real works to connect Latino immigrants to the federal food stamp program. She says her first step often is to kill the false rumor that once immigrants' children turn 18 years old, they have to pay back to the government everything they have received. Real, who works for Community Action Partnership of Scott, Carver and Dakota counties, said she doesn't know where the rumor began, but that it's keeping families from food stamps and thus healthy food." [Associated Press]

UPSIDE DOWNER - Perry Stein: "The District's minimum-wage workers will start seeing a city-mandated increase in their paychecks tomorrow, July 1, when the first phase of the city's wage increase goes into effect. Beginning tomorrow, the minimum wage will jump to $9.50 per hour from today's $8.25." [City Paper]

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OBAMA ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR EXECUTIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION - Elise Foley: "President Barack Obama announced Monday he's done waiting for the House of Representatives to pass an immigration bill, and plans to take executive action to change deportation policies. In remarks from the White House, Obama said that given the House's decision not to move forward with a bill, he will act on his own, refocusing resources to border enforcement and looking into changes he can make to deportation policy. 'If Congress will not do their jobs, at least we can do ours,' he said. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote this year on immigration reform, Obama said. The Senate passed a comprehensive bill one year ago, but Boehner quickly said he would not allow a vote on that legislation. He did, however, say the House would work to address immigration reform in its own way. Meanwhile, Democrats and immigration reform advocates urged Obama to slow deportations, which hit a record high in the 2012 fiscal year. Although the high numbers have also come with an increased focus on priorities set by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (such as convicted criminals and repeat border-crossers), advocates say there's plenty to be done that would make the process more humane for people with longstanding ties to the country." [HuffPost]

HIGH COURT DELIVERS BLOW TO UNIONS - Thank God the unions weren't trying to get a Yaz prescription, because this ruling could've been a lot worse. Dave Jamieson: "In a setback for organized labor that could have been much worse, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that certain government-funded employees cannot be required to pay fees to the public sector unions that represent them, a decision that could hurt some unions financially. The 5-4 ruling in Harris v. Quinn, written by Justice Samuel Alito for the majority, was not the worst-case scenario that unions had feared. But it does deliver a blow to major unions that have organized Medicaid-funded home care workers and other workers who aren't 'full-fledged public employees' in the majority's eyes. Such workers, the court ruled, cannot be compelled to pay 'agency fees.' Because unions have to represent all the employees in a particular bargaining unit, they commonly seek requirements in their contracts that all workers, whether union members or not, pay agency fees to help cover the administrative costs of bargaining. This avoids what unions commonly refer to as 'freeloading' by non-union employees. Demanding an agency fee of the Illinois home care workers who sued the state in Harris v. Quinn would run afoul of the First Amendment, Alito wrote... Anti-union interests, including the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represented the Harris plaintiffs, had hoped the court would apply its decision on agency fees to all public sector workers in the U.S., essentially overturning an earlier Supreme Court case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education." [HuffPost]

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HAD ANOTHER GOOD SUPREME COURT SEASON - David McCabe: "The business lobbying group saw favorable outcomes in 69 percent of the cases it was involved in this term, according to the Constitutional Accountability Center. Of the 17 cases in which the chamber was a party, represented a member company or filed an amicus brief, it received positive decisions in 11 and losses in five. (One case settled before the Supreme Court heard oral argument.) The chamber's record was down slightly from last year, when itwas successful in 78 percent of the cases in which it involved. In the last three terms, the group has won 80 percent of the time." [HuffPost]

VANCE MCALLISTER ACTUALLY RUNNING FOR REELECTION - Thank goodness, because otherwise Congress would lack someone with a name befitting a superhero/high school quarterback. Samantha Lachman: "Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.), who initially said he would not run for re-election after he was caught on video kissing a female staffer, said Monday that he had changed his mind and would seek re-election. Ahead of a 'special press conference' to announce his decision, McAllister told The News-Star that he trusted the 5th District's voters to decide whether they wanted him back in Congress. 'I wanted to make sure everything was good with our family,' McAllister said. 'Our family is stronger than ever, so I think the people should decide whether or not I continue to represent them.' In April, a video from last December was leaked showing McAllister kissing a married staffer, who resigned after the video emerged. McAllister said he would serve out the remainder of his term but not seek re-election, but then hedged his bets by saying he still reserved the opportunity to run again. On Monday, his wife said she was 'behind him 100 percent.' McAllister told The News-Star that he wouldn't continue addressing the scandal during his re-election campaign." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are adorable animals taking baths.

MUMSY, THE FED CHAIR IS TRAMPLING OUR ROSE BUSHES! - Journal: "In the Georgetown gated community of Hillandale, residents live in secluded calm governed by some 50 pages of rules banning fences, motorcycles, certain paint colors, tree species and excess dogs and cats (no more than two total per household). 'People come to live in Hillandale because of the quality of our residential community, and that is something that we need to maintain,' says resident Sallie Forman. Then one of the most powerful economic policy makers in the world moved in and, in the words of some here, ruined the neighborhood. As neighbors tell it, earlier this year, the security detail protecting new Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen barreled through the cul-de-sac where she lives in oversize vans loaded with guns, cameras and takeout pizza. It established an 'armed camp' next door to Ms. Forman's townhome, according to a written bill of grievances presented by concerned neighbors deeming the uniformed police presence 'uncomfortable for residents of various religious persuasions,' such as Quakers. Security trucks, it continued, 'weighing approximately 7,000 pounds each' sit idling on the street for "approximately 22 minutes daily" at each Yellen morning pickup. When Ms. Yellen leaves her home, a second truck then 'speedily pulls out of the security driveway…all the while spilling fluid onto the street, which has now left a permanent stain.' Hillandale bylaws expressly prohibit car fluid spills in the common areas." [WSJ]

COMFORT FOOD

- Putting your pants on with your hands is for suckers. [http://huff.to/1r7qoXW]

- Pigeon hits on a human. No means no, pigeon. [http://chzb.gr/V3M75C]

- Video evidence of why you don't stand anywhere near a demolition site. [http://bit.ly/1oizUUJ]

- Band of robots -- literal robots, not the Daft Punk kind -- cover Ace of Spades. [http://bit.ly/1x5UDie]

- Maru the Cat enjoys a box. [http://bit.ly/TJXAXe]

- Goat chills atop a horse. [http://huff.to/1lsWUvI]

- World Cup fans are annoying. [http://bit.ly/1qbe5YK]

TWITTERAMA

@RyanNewYork: "Blessed are the corporations,
for they shall inherit the earth." - Jesus, apparently

@TERKELRAGE: I SPEAK FOR ALL SATANISTS WHEN I SAY I STAND WITH HOBBY LOBBY. ALL HAIL LUCIFER, LORD OF DARKNESS

@delrayser: Today's decision is a good reminder that Obama's legacy will be measured by the bloggers he nominates to @SCOTUSblog

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