What the GOP’s Supreme Obstruction Means for Women

Senate Republicans are leaving women in limbo on several crucial issues.

— by Martha Burk, OtherWords.org author
Martha BurkSenators, constitutional scholars may tell you, must “advise and consent” on the president’s Supreme Court nominees. But apparently the official GOP policy is to “refuse and obstruct.” They’ve vowed not even to give President Obama’s nominees a vote.

These Republicans claim that leaving the Supreme Court understaffed is no big deal. Well, it’s certainly a big deal for women. Pending cases on abortion, birth control, education, and public employee unions are all sitting before a divided court.

The scariest case is Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole.

It’s a challenge to a Texas law that would close all but about 10 abortion clinics in the state — down from more than 40 — by requiring them to essentially become mini-hospitals. They’d have to employ only doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a regulation almost unheard of for safe and common procedures like abortion.

LaDawna Howard / Flickr
LaDawna Howard / Flickr

Since an appeals court upheld the requirements, a 4-4 deadlock on the Supreme Court would give Texas the green light to enforce them. And it would almost certainly encourage other states to enact similar laws.

On the birth control front, the court will consider Zubik v. Burwell. A successor to the Hobby Lobby case, it’s an argument over whether religiously affiliated institutions have to observe the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employer-provided health plans cover birth control.

These groups are allowed to avoid the requirement by filling out a form, in which case the government will arrange with their insurer to cover their employees. A few of these groups are claiming that still makes them complicit in sinful conduct.

A 4-4 tie at the Supreme Court would be a mixed bag, since most — but not all — appeals court decisions have upheld the accommodation as not burdensome to religious practice.

Meanwhile, established labor law is on the line in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, where the court will consider whether public employees who choose not to join unions can still be required to pay fees for collective bargaining activities. A decision against the unions could mortally wound them.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, women are the majority of the public sector workforce, and the wage gap with their male counterparts is smaller for public union women than non-union women. The lower court favored the unions, so a tie would stave off a major blow to their viability. But that’s still a lot to risk.

Women are now also the majority of college students, and women of color could be greatly affected by a decision in Fisher v. University of Texas. In that case, the court will decide whether the school’s race‑conscious admissions program violates the Constitution’s equal protection principles.

Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself. So if the Senate leaves Scalia’s seat unfilled, the case will be decided by seven justices — which means there can be no tie. Three judges — John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito — oppose affirmative action, and a fourth, Anthony Kennedy, has previously expressed doubts about the University of Texas policy.

So what’s the score?

In four cases affecting women the most, two could go in women’s favor with tie votes. A third tie vote would go against women, and a 4-3 conservative majority would hurt them in the final case as well.

However you score it, Senate Republicans are leaving women in limbo until a new justice is chosen and new cases can be brought. That could take years. Women — and the country — deserve better.


Martha Burk is the director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) and the author of the book Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics, and the Change We Need. Follow Martha on Twitter @MarthaBurk.

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Ruben Kihuen’s statement on Hardy’s 6th vote to repeal ACA and 5th vote to defund Planned Parenthood

KihuenHdr

For Immediate Release
Janurary 6th, 2015
Contact: Dave Chase, (702) 350-2744

— Ruben Kihuen, State Senator and candidate for U.S. Congress (NV-04), released the following statement after Congressman Cresent Hardy voted for the 6th time to repeal the Affordabl Card Act and the 5th time to defund Planned Parenthood:

Kihuen said:
“Congressman Hardy and Congressional Republicans should be ashamed of their obsession with taking this country’s health care system backwards and attacking women’s health care. Americans deserve better.”

Background

2016: HR 3762, Vote#6 — Today, Rep. Hardy (CD4), along with Representatives Mark Amodei (CD2) and Joe Heck (CD3) voted to effectively gut the Affordable Care Act by repealing/defunding the bulk of provisions of this bill as well as prohibiting any/all funding for Planned Parenthood

2015: Hardy Voted Five Times To Defund Planned Parenthood. In 2015, Hardy voted five times to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, in part or whole. [HR 3134, Vote #504, 9/18/15; Democratic Leader – Motions To Recommit, 9/18/15; HR 3134, Vote #505, 9/18/15; Washington Post, 9/18/15; HR 3495,Vote #524, 9/29/15; Duffy Press Release, 9/29/15; H Con Res 79, Vote #527, 9/30/15; CQ Floor Votes, 9/30/15; HR 3762, Vote #568, 10/23/15; Fox News,10/23/15]

Hardy Voted To Create Panel To Investigate Planned Parenthood. In October 2015, Hardy voted “to create a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood and the handling of aborted fetal tissue, all but ensuring an already-fierce partisan battle will continue into 2016. In a nearly party-line vote, lawmakers voted 242 to 184 to establish a 13-member committee with broad power to investigate wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood amid allegations that it has tried to profit from the sale of aborted tissue.” [H Res 461, Vote #538, 10/07/15; The Hill, 10/07/15]

Hardy Voted To Repeal Or Dismantle The Affordable Care Act Six Times. In 2015, Hardy voted to repeal or dismantle the Affordable Care Act, in part or whole, six times. [HR 40, Vote #141/08/15; HR 596, Vote #582/03/15; S Con Res 11, Vote #1834/30/15; HR 160, Vote # 3756/18/15; HR 1190, Vote #376,6/23/15; HR 3762, Vote #56810/23/15]

Voted To Implement Nevada State Health Exchange. Hardy voted in favor of a bill that “creates the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange to provide services relating to the purchase and sale of health insurance by residents and certain employers in this State …, [which] is required to create and administer a state-based health insurance exchange, facilitate the purchase and sale of qualified health plans, provide for the establishment of a program to help certain small employers in Nevada in facilitating the enrollment of employees in qualified health plans, and perform all other duties that are required of it pursuant to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and any amendments to or regulations or guidance issued pursuant to those acts” The bill passed 38-0. [SB440, 6/04/11; Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/08/14]

Cited Nevada Health Link As Example Of Bipartisanship. In September 2014, the Desert Valley Times wrote, “Hardy touted his bipartisan work in getting legislation passed, which will allow him to go straight to Congress and get things done and he vowed to continue to do that. Hardy cited his vote for the state-run Nevada Health Link, the exchange for the health reform law, as an example. He said he voted for it to keep it as much in the state’s hands as possible and keep the federal government out of it. ‘Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out,’ he said.” [Desert Valley Times, 9/25/14]


State Senator Ruben Kihuen is running as a Democrat in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. Ruben has a proven record of real results for working families. Born in Mexico, Ruben and his family immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. He worked his way through college and after graduation was inspired to “pay it forward” by working with other students at College of Southern Nevada. In the legislature, Ruben helped craft landmark bi-partisan bills increasing funding for our schools and making college more affordable, and he beat back a reckless Republican agenda attempting to dismantle worker’s rights, restrict women’s health care and repeal LGBTQ protections. Ruben is running for Congress to ensure everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream.

To Learn more about Ruben Kihuen and his campaign for Congress, visit www.rubenforcongress.com or follow Ruben on Facebook or Twitter.

Sen Heller Betrays NV’s Women; Votes to Filibuster Hobby Lobby Fix

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) Betrays NV's Women
Sen. Dean Heller
Betrays NV’s Women

When the Supreme Court made the terrible decision to allow corporations like Hobby Lobby to discriminate against women, members of Congress were ready to fight back to defend women’s access to birth control.

Senators Murray, Udall and Boxer quickly introduced a bill to make sure that corporations can’t interfere with employees’ access to health care, including birth control, as provided for by the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) under federal law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fast-tracked the bill, bringing it for a full vote in the Senate today.

Not surprisingly, Republicans, including Nevada’s own Senator Dean Heller,  used the filibuster to block an up-or-down vote on the bill, meaning it will now take 60 votes to pass this bill. Only two Republicans broke from their caucus’s en bloc action — Senators Kirk and Murkowski.

Republicans continue to use the filibuster to shut down sensible legislation, and provide cover for their members who don’t want to go on the record in opposition to things like birth control access for women, common sense gun law reform, or relief for crushing student loan debt.

This week, they used the filibuster to block a legislative remedy for the disastrous Hobby Lobby v. Burwell decision. Outrageously, the five male justices on the Supreme Court ruled that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that Congress could exempt the Affordable Care Act from the RFRA as a way of protecting the inclusion of contraception as preventative care in the ACA. The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act does exactly that, and would have protected not only women’s access to contraception from employer discrimination, but any employees’ access to any health care provided through the Affordable Care Act.

Tell Senate Republicans to end their filibuster and allow a vote on women’s access to birth control. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:

Take-Action

Vote #228 held on July 16, 2014, 02:09 PM EDT  on the Motion to Proceed (Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S.2578 )

YEAs —56
Baldwin (D-WI)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Hirono (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Walsh (D-MT)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —43
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Lee (R-UT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

 

Not Voting – 1
Schatz (D-HI)

#ItsNotUpToThem Week

— Roberta Lange, Nevada State Democratic Party Chair

A few weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court issued a backwards ruling that allows for-profit corporate CEOs to make medical decisions that should be made between a woman and her doctor.  That’s right – in the year 2014, the Supreme Court thinks female employees’ healthcare decisions should be made in a corporate boardroom, not a doctor’s office.

This week, the United States Senate will vote on legislation to address the Supreme Court’s ruling and ensure women who work at for-profit corporations have access to reproductive healthcare.  While Democrats like Senator Reid, Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, and Erin Bilbray support ensuring women have access to reproductive healthcare, Republicans like Dean Heller and Joe Heck have consistently voted to restrict women’s access to contraception.

In support of the Senate bill, Nevada Democrats are launching #ItsNotUpToThem week.  All week we will be highlighting how dangerous the Republican agenda is for the health of Nevada women.  Because whether it’s Mark Hutchison leading the charge to go back to a time where private insurance companies could treat being a woman as a pre-existing condition, or Joe Heck voting to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, it’s time we send a message to Nevada Republicans that women’s healthcare decisions aren’t up to them or corporate bosses.

Sign your name here to tell Republicans it’s 2014, not 1914.    


Please note that Roberta mentioned Candidate Erin Bilbray who is running agains Rep. Joe Heck, but failed to mention Candidate Kristen Spees who is running against Rep. Mark Amodei to represent those of us who are unfortunate enough to live in NV-Congressional District 2!

NOT My Boss’s Business!

NotMyBossBusiness

Corporate owners are NOT entitled to SUPER-CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS that they can wield in a discriminatory fashion against their employees. It’s time to end this culture war once and for all in November. We, as Democrats, need to encourage everybody we know to go to the polls and vote for folks who will actively work for the benefit of not just men, but women too.  If we don’t vote and if we don’t convince our Independent and Non-Partisan friends to vote with us, we’ll have nothing but gridlock in Washington, one government shutdown after another and the introduction of second-class citizenship for women.