A few days have passed since the well-publicized Supreme Court ruling on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and some of the initial fervor has died down.
Truthfully speaking, the immediate reactions were predictable. Many women and women’s groups were up in arms, citing that the decision had robbed women of their rights. Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center commented, “These and other closely held companies will now have a license to harm their female employees in the name of the company’s religion and ignore the religious, the moral and the practical considerations of the women themselves.”
Meanwhile, religious groups celebrated that the court upheld principles of religious freedom. The statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stipulated that Monday was “a great day for the religious freedom of family businesses.”
At this point, the decision is widely seen as a blow to the left and a resounding victory for the right. However, I see this ruling politically backfiring in the long term.
First of all, this decision does nothing to help the Republicans solve their problem with women and everything to solidify the female Democratic base.
For Republicans, the visual is bad enough: The dissent of all three female Supreme Court justices reinforces the idea that this decision was made without the consideration of and against the women it will ultimately affect.
In fact, the ruling itself seems like another instance of stodgy, Republican men policing women’s sexual and reproductive rights in the name of protecting religion and morality.
It’s moves like these that are just going to frustrate the growing number of people who support women’s rights for their own bodies, and give them more reason to turn out on Election Day and vote for Democratic candidates who feel the same, both in 2014 and 2016.
One woman in particular is sure to get a boost from this decision and its reception. Hillary Clinton has already critiqued the ruling, calling it “deeply disturbing.” Decisions like these serve only to shore up support of Clinton, whose gender naturally makes her the women’s issues candidate.
In the end, this decision will only continue to alienate women and young social liberals from the Republican cause, two groups without which the party can’t hope to encounter future success.