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2 posts from July 1, 2014

July 01, 2014

Fact-checking claims about Hobby Lobby

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that certain companies with religious objections can opt out of a mandate under the Affordable Care Act to provide free contraception to their employees.

The 5-4 ruling involved a case brought by two companies owned by Christian families: Hobby Lobby, a chain of hobby stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which makes wood cabinets. The companies opposed providing certain types of contraception that they believe is equivalent to inducing abortion, including morning-after pills and IUDs. (They didn’t oppose other methods of birth control.) They based their case on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by President Bill Clinton.

The issue arose because birth control is included among the free preventative services mandated by President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health care law. Houses of worship and religious institutions were already exempt from this aspect of the law. The court’s ruling applies to "closed corporations" which are in control by a few people, rather than public companies with many shareholders.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, stating that women who work for these corporations can still access these types of birth control either by the federal government paying for it or through a third-party administrator.

Though the ruling was narrower in scope than it could have been, supporters of broad access to contraception expressed disappointment. One of these supporters was U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair from South Florida. In a statement attacking the decision, Wasserman Schultz said that contraception for women isn’t just about avoiding pregnancy.

"Nearly 60 percent of women who use birth control do so for more than just family planning," she said.

We fact-checked Wasserman's claim and rated it Mostly True.

We're fact-checking a few other claims from the case and will update this story as we complete them.

Latest Democratic ad hits Rick Scott on education cuts, tuition hikes


The Florida Democratic Party is out with a new ad that criticizes Gov. Rick Scott's education record, including budget cuts and approval of tuition increases. The ad, uploaded today on Youtube but scheduled to air in Central and South Florida, is simply titled, "Why?"

This is the Democrats' second ad and, like the first, will be aired in West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa at a cost in the "high six-figures" according to FDP spokesman Joshua Karp. That mirrors the parts of the state where the Scott campaign has spent the most.

The script for the newest ad: "He didn’t side with students and parents when Rick Scott cut education funding by over a billion dollars. Working and middle-class families? Nope. Not on their side when Scott’s cuts forced tuition increases at eleven Florida universities. Why would he do it? Whose side was Rick Scott on? Scott cut education to pay for even more tax breaks for big, powerful, well-connected corporations. With his education cuts and tuition increases, Rick Scott’s not on your side."

UPDATE: Republican Party spokeswoman Susan Hepworth responds:

"Charlie Crist is running away - again. This time he is running from the fact that he is not transparent and doesn't want to honor the tradition of Florida gubernatorial candidates releasing tax returns for both themselves and their spouses. But false negative TV ads can't hide Charlie from Florida's standards of transparency."