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Democrats on Hobby Lobby: ‘Misspeaks,’ ‘opinion’ and overheated rhetoric

“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.

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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.

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“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 (external - login to view), on July 8

(Wait. . . Clarence Thomas is white?)

“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

“[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. **** Durbin (D-Ill.), quoted in ABC’s “The Note,” (external - login to view) July 10

“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

“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

“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

“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