Republicans are on the attack, once again trying to put women’s fundamental rights on the chopping block. I stand alongside my colleagues to fight back. Senator Patty Murray of Washington, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, and forty other Senators have stood up to sponsor new legislation to reverse the Supreme Court’s shocking decision in Hobby Lobby, where the Court gave corporations the power to deny their employees access to birth control. We will vote on our legislation tomorrow morning, and I urge my colleagues to pass it without delay.
Right now – with millions of Americans still out of work and struggling to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, with 40 million Americans dealing with student loans, with millions of people working full-time at minimum wage and still living in poverty, with big banks getting bigger, workers getting poorer, and seniors struggling to make ends meet – Republicans in Washington have decided that the most important thing for them to focus on is how to deny women access to birth control.
I’ll be honest – I cannot believe that we are even having a debate about whether employers can deny women access to birth control. Guys, this is 2014, not 1914. Most Americans thought this was settled long, long ago. But for some reason, Republicans keep dragging us back here – over and over and over again.
After all, the Hobby Lobby case is just the most recent battle in an all-out Republican assault on women’s access to basic health care. The Hobby Lobby case is stunning, but not entirely surprising. Giant corporations and their rightwing allies fight every day in Congress to protect their own privileges and to bend the laws to benefit themselves. They devote enormous resources to the task. Sometimes, we beat them anyway. We beat them when they tried to pass the Blunt amendment, and we beat them when they tried to shut down the government over birth control overage. But when corporations lose in Congress, they don’t just give up. They know they can often turn defeat into victory if they get a favorable court decision.
So while they push hard on Congress, they also devote enormous resources to influencing the courts – trying to transform our judiciary from a neutral, fair, and impartial forum into just one more rigged Washington game.
And nowhere has the success of this strategy to rig the courts been more obvious than with our current Supreme Court.
Three well-respected legal scholars recently examined 2,000 Supreme Court cases from the last 65 years and listed the top ten most pro-corporate justices in that time – 65 years. The results? The five conservative justices on the court today were all in the top ten, and Justices Alito and Roberts are numbers one and two.
So it’s no surprise that those five Justices banded together in the Hobby Lobby case to decide that corporations have more rights than the women who work for them. They decided that corporations are “people” who matter more than the real, living men and women who work hard every day and are entitled to the protection of our laws.
We can fight back against this decision, and against the corporate capture of our federal courts. We can fight back by appointing judges who are fair, judges who are impartial, and judges who won’t show up on any top ten lists for consistently putting a thumb on the scales in favor of big business. And we can fight back tomorrow by passing legislation to overturn this terrible Supreme Court decision.
Senators will have a chance to vote tomorrow. I urge every Senator to do the right thing. But whatever happens, we have won this fight many times before, and I am confident that sooner or later we will win it again. Because no matter how many resources the other side pours into the battle, they will never convince Americans that their bosses should be in charge of their most intimate health care decisions. And they will never convince Americans that corporations are “people” whose imagined rights are somehow more important than the health of real, living, breathing people.
I have a daughter. I have granddaughters. And I will never stop fighting the efforts of backward-looking ideologues who want to cut women’s access to birth control. We’ve lived in that world, and we are not going back. Not ever.