By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- BURWELL v. HOBBY LOBBY EXPLAINED: Lawyers for two closely held for profit corporations are seeking an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception provision. Regulations implementing the law require most group health plans to cover a full range of contraceptives at no cost. But Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain, and Conestoga Wood, a cabinet making company, says the so called contraceptive mandate forces them to either violate their faith or pay crippling fines, according to ABC’s veteran Supreme Court watcher ARIANE DE VOGUE. At the center of the challenge is a federal law designed to protect religious liberty. It’s called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and it prohibits the government from burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless that burden represents the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling interest.
- WHY YOU CARE: This is a battle between the religious liberty claims of employers and women’s rights groups, DE VOGUE notes. Hobby Lobby says it only objects to four of the contraceptives because it believes they could lead to blocking the implantation of an egg. Hobby Lobby says it is burdened by the law, and the government has already has offered others (churches, non-profits) either an exemption or an accommodation. Meanwhile, opponents of Hobby Lobby say if the for-profit corporations prevail, the women will be forced to pay for contraceptives. They also worry about the slippery slope: If a for profit can bring this claim and not have to provide the contraceptives, what about a business down the road that objected to blood transfusion? Vaccines?
- WHEN THE CASE FIRST STARTED THE THRESHOLD QUESTION WAS: Can a for-profit company be considered a “person exercising religion” under the law attracted a lot of attention. But at oral arguments it appeared one way or the other the justices would allow the claim to go forward.
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
THE WASHINGTON ELDERS: RETIRED POLITICAL LEADERS TEAM UP TO TELL DC TO SHAPE UP. A group of party elders say it’s time to take a bite out of Washington gridlock. “We see the two bodies, the House and Senate, they don’t really communicate,” said former Sen. Trent Lott, R – Mississippi. “One body passes a bill, it goes nowhere; the other body passes a bill, it goes nowhere. So we reached a point, I think, the American people are really frustrated, they don’t like what they’re seeing, the lack of cooperation.” Lott, along with former Sens. Tom Daschle, D -South Dakota, and Olympia Snowe, R – Maine, are co-chairs of the bipartisan “Commission on Political Reform” and sat down with ABC’s JEFF ZELENY to discuss their new report. After years working in government themselves, this group of retired senators has their share of gripes with the Washington system. Daschle pointed to Republicans’ “abuse of the filibuster” as his top complaint. “I think Lyndon Johnson had one filibuster in the six years that he was majority leader. In the last six years, there have been 422 filibusters,” he said. “That’s probably all you need to know about the abuse of the filibuster today.” http://yhoo.it/1ohyjOS
ABC’s JIM AVILA: Between the waves of unaccompanied children, more than 52,000 of them so far this year, coming across the border with Mexico and the sharp increase in the number of mothers from Central America carrying their children across, there has been a massive influx of undocumented immigrants to the United States. Republicans have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Obama and his two-year-old relief for young undocumented immigrants or DREAMERS program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants temporary legal status to those who have spent the majority of their life in the U.S. n fact, desperate Central American parents are exploiting separate legal loopholes in American border security passed before Obama took office. Unaccompanied minors fall under the bipartisan law, William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 , which passed the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Obama and his administration, meanwhile, say the violence in the Central American countries is to blame for the mass influx. http://abcn.ws/1z0dqNW
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Weeks after Hillary Clinton uttered those two words “dead broke” to ABC’s Diane Sawyer, the phrase–and the issue of whether the possible 2016 candidate is out of touch–still dominates headlines. GOP research group America Rising even has t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase. However, President Obama said he doesn’t think the issue will stick telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos it’s all part of politics. “As soon as you jump back into the spotlight in a more explicitly political way, you’re going to be a fly-spec like this,” Obama said, adding “She’s accustomed to it. Anybody who gets involved in public life is accustomed to it.” But, how will the issue resonate on the 2016 campaign trail, not with presidents, but voters? It’s lasted a long time for our fleeting news cycle, but could it be a good thing the issue is erupting now, no matter how much the coverage seems wall to wall? It’s possible, but likely this will be an issue that haunts.
with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON
HILLARY CLINTON’S EASY CHOICE ON WHAT TO SAY ABOUT ‘HARD CHOICES’. Hillary Clinton appears to have combined answers to tough questions with subtle marketing since the publication of her new memoir “Hard Choices.” She manages to work the words “hard choices” into questions that range from Iraq to Benghazi to the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange. During a Council on Foreign Relations event earlier this month, Clinton was asked for her assessment of the merger between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Her response? “There are a lot of hard choices, to coin a phrase,” she began. She also deployed the line while discussing gun control earlier this month. “We make hard choices and we balance competing values all the time,” Clinton said in a CNN interview. “And I was disappointed that the Congress did not pass universal background checks after the horrors of the shootings at Sandy Hook.” It’s a two-word refrain that’s been heard frequently in Clinton’s recent interviews as ABC’s ALI WEINBERG points out: http://abcn.ws/1m28a6v
CLINTON ENDS BOOK TOUR BACK IN HER HOMETOWN. Hillary just wrapped up her final book signing event in her hometown of Chappaqua, N.Y. yesterday — marking the end of her three-week nationwide book tour to promote “Hard Choices,” ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ notes. There were no bells and whistles, no Supreme Court Justice sightings or Hollywood pop stars, at this final signing at the local public library. Just friendly neighbors and local fans who came out to meet (even if just for a moment) one-half of the town’s most notable couple. This final book signing comes after a week of increased scrutiny over Bill and Hillary Clinton’s wealth. Throughout the book tour, Hillary Clinton has faced heat for telling ABC’s Diane Sawyer that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House. This past week, Bill Clinton defended Hillary Clinton, telling NBC’s David Gregory that his wife is not “out of touch.” He described how they go to the local grocery store in Chappaqua on weekends and chat with ordinary people, and hear their struggles. Those in line at today’s book signing seemed to agree. When asked about the recent notion that the Clintons are out of touch, their fellow residents simply brushed it off.
–BY THE NUMBERS: Approximately 1,200 books were ordered and signed at the book signing yesterday. Hillary Clinton, in an aqua pantsuit, was cheery and energized, despite her grueling schedule. Since the release of “Hard Choices,” Hillary Clinton has held roughly 20 book-related events in 10 states, plus Washington, DC and Canada. And it’s not over yet. While the state-side promotional blitz has come to an end, Clinton will soon embark on the overseas portion of the book tour. According to Politico, Clinton will travel around Europe in early July to promote “Hard Choices.”
OBAMA: CLINTON’S ‘DEAD BROKE’ COMMENT WON’T MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. President Barack Obama doesn’t believe comments made by his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about how she and former President Bill Clinton were “not only dead broke but in debt” when they exited the White House will matter too much if she chooses to run for president, ABC’s BENJAMIN BELL notes “As soon as you jump back into the spotlight in a more explicitly political way, you’re going to be fly-spec like this,” Obama told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS in an exclusive interview. “She’s accustomed to it. Anybody who gets involved in public life is accustomed to it. Over time I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference.” Obama asserted that his onetime political rival has a record that speaks for itself. “I think that Hillary has been to this rodeo a bunch of times,” he said. “She is in public service [be]cause she cares about the same folks that I talked to here today. Her track record on that speaks for itself.” http://abcn.ws/1maYh8m
BORDER TOWN MAYOR: INFLUX OF IMMIGRANTS NOT YET A CRISIS Although President Obama called the influx of undocumented minors on the U.S.-Mexico border a “humanitarian crisis” this week, Mayor Jim Darling of the U.S. border town of McAllen, Texas, told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS he disagrees with that label, ABC’s ALISA WIERSEMA reports. We don’t think it’s a crisis,” Darling said Sunday on “This Week.” “We’re doing everything — efforts here at the border to make sure it doesn’t turn into a crisis.” Darling described how McAllen’s border bus station serves as “point zero” for the undocumented immigrants as they are processed by border patrol. “We’ve spent $70,000 so far. We expect to spend over half a million before the end of the year,” Darling said. “The Catholic charities and other charitable organizations are spending about $150,000. They expect to spend almost a million dollars before the end of the year. So it’s not fair to our taxpayers. It’s not fair to the charities to have to front those monies when really this is a federal situation.” http://abcn.ws/1nV4jFM
HILLARY CLINTON’S $225K UNLV SPEECH FEE SPARKS UPROAR Hillary Clinton is appearing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas this October and her speaking fee — $225,000 — has sparked an outcry that seems to be getting louder, ABC’s MICHAEL FALCONE AND SCOTT WILSON note. The fee has led to calls by UNLV students for Clinton to either speak for free or donate the money back to students. Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston has been among those leading the charge against UNLV’s decision. “Tuition just went up seventeen percent. It’s gone up a hundred percent over the past decade or so. We think that students could really use this support from the $225,000—and greatly benefit from the scholarships-from the speaking fee, Daniel Waqar, Student Relations Director for the UNLV Student Government told Ralston this week. An invitation-only event, the base price for UNLV’s fundraiser is $200 a head. The lavish charity event comes on the heels of Hillary’s recent comment in an interview with ABC’s DIANE SAWYER about how her family was “dead broke” upon leaving the White House. http://abcn.ws/1rInQwG
@bethreinhard: Brace yourself for religious liberty v birth control messaging war over Hobby Lobby case. Could last a while.
@AriMelber: Hobby Lobby isn’t only a religious freedom case, it’s also about gender equality. They’re only evading rules about health care for women.
@alcivar: .@CarlyFiorina Launches Grassroots Network Aimed At Women http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/06/30/decision-day-on-obamacare-birth-control-rule/ … Follow @_UP_Project
@CarrieNBCNews: 33% w/ income under $25k say Clinton can’t relate to Americans’ problems as well as other candidates. 45% of those over $100k say same