Obama Considers Executive End Run Around Hobby Lobby Decision
July 2, 2014 by Ben Bullard
The Administration of President Barack Obama, fresh off its 13th Supreme Court defeat for executive overreach, may not be ready to move on from Monday’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, who successfully argued that Obamacare’s contraception mandate unConstitutionally violates their religious beliefs.
The 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby allows owners of closely held corporations (the Internal Revenue Service defines “closely held” corporations as having five or fewer major shareholders) to decline to include post-coital birth control drugs in their employer-sponsored health insurance plans, if doing so violates their religious convictions. Hobby Lobby has no moral objection to — and will continue to offer coverage for — 16 forms of birth control that prevent conception from occurring.
But the Obama Administration immediately rebuked the majority opinion, calling on Congress to get involved.
“Today’s decision jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies,” said Earnest, later adding: “We will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as everyone else.”
Approaching Congress with an open hand seems to be the necessary condition the Obama Administration must first establish in order to lay the groundwork for executive action. Later in the same press conference, Earnest insinuated that the President may attempt — in spite of his track record before the high court — to pursue “other options…that don’t require legislative action.” That’s because no one expects Congress to meddle with the Court’s decision anytime soon.
So as we gather some more information, we may be in a position to better consider the range of options that are available to the President. It is our view, as I said here at the top, though, that Congress needs to take action to solve this problem that’s been created, and the administration stands ready to work with them to do so.
The Republican-controlled House is loaded with a majority of representatives who loudly praised Monday’s ruling. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the decision “a victory for religious freedom and another defeat for an Administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives.” Anything that might be approved in the Senate — and that’s an enormous hypothetical, given the climate surrounding the approaching elections — will fizzle once it hits the House.
So there’s only one other option, at least if you’re Obama.
The Administration created the expectations it intends to fulfill on Monday. If Obama were to take the executive action path again, he likely will have the backing of Congressional Democrats, who have already indicated a willingness to allow the President to “borrow the power that is needed,” as Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), speaking on the illegal immigration crisis, flatly stated last week.