Washington Post Takes Pelosi and Reid to Task Over Hobby Lobby: “Rhetoric Not Facts”

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 14, 2014   |   10:09AM   |   Washington, DC

You know it’s bad when the liberal Washington Post takes top pro-abortion Democrats to task for their misstatements, exaggeration and overblown comments in reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to protect Hobby Lobby.

We at LifeNews.com have profiled the myriad of ways in which the Post, over the years, has been a leader in media bias by virtue of its one-sided reporting on pro-life issues. Amazingly, the liberal giant took Pelosi, Reid and other top pro-abortion Democrats to task.

It was bad enough when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said “five white men” on the Supreme Court made the decision to protect Hobby Lobby form having to pay for drugs that cause abortions for their employees.

nancypelosipic2Then, Nancy Pelosi seemed to think that the ruling somehow banned contraception or prevents women from using diaphragms. Actually, Hobby Lobby already covered diaphragms before the ruling and will continue to cover them. The ruling was about drugs that can cause abortions.If only top Democrats bothered to read the ruling and learn what was at stake in the decision and what the Supreme Court decided.

Without further ado, here’s it’s report on the top top Congressional Democrats:

“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.

Statements on Supreme Court cases are notoriously difficult to fact check because rulings are open to interpretation – and the full impact is often difficult to judge until lower courts begin to react to the ruling. Both Democrats and Republicans use adverse Supreme Court rulings to rally their respective bases, but lawmakers have a responsibility not to succumb to overheated and inaccurate rhetoric.

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. That may or may not be the case depending on circumstances. Moreover, it is worth remembering that when the Affordable Care Act was passed, 28 states already had laws or regulations that promote insurance coverage for contraception. The law sought to extend that across the country — and even with this ruling, that will remain the case for the vast majority of workers.

“Really, we should be afraid of this court.  The five guys who start determining what contraceptions are legal. Let’s not even go there.”

— Pelosi

This is a very odd statement from the House Democratic leader, given that the majority opinion flatly states that “under our cases, women (and men) have a constitutional right to obtain contraceptives,” citing the 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, which under the right to privacy nullified a law prohibiting the use of contraceptives.

Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman, acknowledged that she “misspoke.” “Obviously the impact of the court’s decision is not to make these four contraceptive methods illegal – i.e. no longer allowed to be sold”, he said.  “But the overriding point here is that the decision does in fact limit access, which is the key point Pelosi made.”

Hammill cited Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s dissent that women have a compelling interest in being able to plan their pregnancies and that they need reliable birth control.

Later, in the same news conference, Pelosi decried that “five men could get down to specifics of whether a woman should use a diaphragm and she should pay for it herself or her boss.”

Hobby Lobby involved the owners’ objection to four types of birth control but not diaphragms, but here Pelosi adhered closer to the essence of the case (and a related temporary injunction the court awarded to Wheaton College): the question of who should pay for contraceptives. (The court also vacated a decision by an appeals court that had ruled against a Michigan company that objected to providing any contraceptives under its employee health plan, so that would include diaphragms.)

Ginsburg’s dissent pointed out that it costs $1,000 for the office visit and insertion procedure for intrauterine devices (IUDs) — “nearly the equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”

Our colleagues at PolitiFact gave Pelosi a rating of “false” for her comments, and we certainly agree, though we generally do not award Pinocchios when politicians fess up to a mistake.

Still, we note that despite her office’s admission of a mistake, the transcript of the news conference had not yet been corrected three days later. “It will be,” Hammill said. “We’re migrating to a new site in the next two weeks, so everything is a little slow.”

 “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, on July 8

The Hobby Lobby decision was written by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. That’s certainly five men, but Thomas is African American.

“That was a mistake, and he knew it right away,” spokesman Adam Jentleson said. He noted that on other occasions Reid has simply said “five men.” (The four dissenters included three women.)