Decision day on ObamaCare birth control rule

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Buzz Cut:
• Decision day on ObamaCare birth control rule
• Court could end forced union membership
• Still likable enough: Obama offers muted defense of Hillary on buck raking
• Power Play: Braley makes his case
• Patriotic pest control

On the heels of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling smacking down President Obama’s claim to that he had the power to circumvent the Senate for key appointments, the administration’s expansion of executive power is front and center again at the high court. Expected today is a decision on Obama’s effort to force business owners to pay for birth control methods that violate their religious beliefs. Devout Christians, Jews and Muslims believe that the so-called “morning-after pill” destroys a human life, just as an abortion does. The administration says that even business owners who sincerely hold those views must still pay for ObamaCare-compliant insurance plans that provide those drugs. The case is significant not only as it relates to religious exemptions from the law, but also may open the door to further limitations of the government’s newly expanded powers to mandate the purchase of health insurance.

The deets - WSJ: “The [birth-control] decision could have immediate consequences for a high-profile provision of the Affordable Care Act, two years after the court upheld the law’s requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance. The owners of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., an Oklahoma City arts-and-crafts chain owned by founder David Green and his evangelical Christian family, along with the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Pennsylvania cabinetmaker, challenged the heath-law’s requirement that most employer-health plans cover contraception without charging copayments. They say the requirement violates the rights of religious owners of for-profit companies who believe some forms of birth control are immoral, citing a 1993 statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which encourages federal law to accommodate individuals’ religious beliefs. Behind the challengers are dozens of other religious business owners who say they have been waiting on the court's decision to shape their future health coverage offerings to workers.”

‘More Pyongyang than Peoria’ - In a piece for Fox News Opinion, editor Michael Zigarelli offers his view of how the justices ruling on the ObamaCare’s birth control mandate has broad implications for religious freedom in America. “If the law requires business owners, under threat of state punishment, to abdicate their bona fide religious beliefs, then we are adopting a new form of governance -- one that’s more Pyongyang than Peoria….”

What is (and isn’t) at stake - Sam Baker examines the potential scope of the Hobby Lobby case for the National Journal.

[Did justices tip hands? - Oral arguments in March seemed show a divided court sympathetic to the view of business owners who say their religious objections protect them from ObamaCare mandate that their plans should cover all kinds of contraceptives.]

Also expected today is a ruling on a suit that could change the political landscape for decades to come and deal a blow to the Democratic Party. Many states require government workers to pay dues to designated unions. Those unions, in turn, spend the money to help elect politicians dedicated to increased spending and expanding pay and benefits for government workers. Democrats’ state-level and national clout relies heavily on those compulsory payments. In states where governments stopped forcing dues payments, workers have fled in droves, sapping the available resources for Democrats to stay in power. While the fight has been playing out at the state level for years, an Illinois provision that forced all of the state’s home health workers to pay dues could end up changing the rules on the national level.

Case file - WFLD: “On Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down its opinion on a case involving a Winthrop Harbor [Ill.] woman which could have a significant impact on the future of public sector unions. Illinois state law allows Pam Harris to work as the full time caregiver for her son Josh, who is severely disabled. She is paid by Medicaid. But when Gov. Pat Quinn [D-Ill.] signed an executive order allowing caregivers like Harris to be unionized, she filed a lawsuit, saying she’s technically not a state employee and complaining that her son’s Medicaid benefits would go toward a union she doesn’t support, in violation of her First Amendment rights. ‘This is public dollars intended to support individuals with disabilities. It is not public funding intended to support the union,’ Harris said. Harris lost in the lower courts, but last fall, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear her appeal. If Harris wins, public employee unions could suffer a major setback. Membership and dues could fall dramatically, as would their political clout.”

[Watch Fox: Correspondent Shannon Bream will have the decisions live from the Supreme Court as they are handed down.]

Daily Caller: “Only one-in-five Americans want to see additional immigration, while two-in-five Americans want less immigration, says a new Gallup poll. …. ‘The majority of the American people want to see immigration reform done,’ President Obama insisted during in June 27 interview with ABC’s Good Morning America. But there’s no evidence for Obama’s claim. Even among Democratic respondents, only 27 percent want increased immigration… That’s actually less than the percentage of Democrats who want it reduced, which is 32 percent, according to Gallup. Only 23 percent of independents want immigration increased, while 43 percent want it to be reduced.”

Obama wants $2 billion to address border crisis - AP: “President Barack Obama is seeking more than $2 billion to respond to the flood of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for new powers to deal with returning immigrant children apprehended while traveling without their parents… The president will ask that the Homeland Security Department be granted the authority to apply ‘fast track’ procedures to the screening and deportation of all immigrant children traveling without their parents.”

What’s the difference between data and information? Usefulness. Mark andAnthony Mills consider how the Age of Big Data is changing journalism for City Journal: “It would be tempting to think that this new era will no longer require intermediaries. Yet data—especially big data—must still be interpreted before they can be made useful. Data scientists have begun to take their places alongside journalists and other past intermediaries but with a twist: making sense out of big data will require them to think like the storytellers of old. What questions should be asked? What data should be interpreted, where should they be sent, when, and for whom? While a nineteenth-century journalist would recognize these questions, answering them increasingly requires an understanding of human behavior and desires.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41.7 percent//Disapprove – 53.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29 percent//Wrong Track – 62.5 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 42.8 percent// Republicans 41.4 percent


President Obama, whose 2008 and 2012 campaigns attacked rivals for their wealth and indifference to ordinary Americans’ concerns, sought to downplay the significance of the struggles of his party’s 2016 frontrunner to address the massive wealth her family accumulated after leaving the White House. But Obama wasn’t exactly giving Hillary Clinton any gold stars for repeatedly insisting that “hard work” allowed she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to rake in an estimated $155 million since 2001. Clinton has also complained several times about what she says were her family’s financial hardships.  Fox News: “‘Over time, I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference,’ Obama said, in an interview aired on ABC's ‘This Week’… She has tried to walk back that phrasing, but Obama said she’s been to this ‘rodeo’ before.  ‘As soon as you jump back into the spotlight in a more explicitly political way, you’re going to be flyspecked like this, and she's accustomed to it,’ he said…”

What could possibly go wrong? - Hillary Clinton will take part in a live Facebook conversation, where she will take questions from an online audience this afternoon with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson as part of the institute’s annual gathering.

Feeling gassy - In an Aspen Institute session, former Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was asked whether Hillary Clinton might reverse ObamaCare if she and her husband recapture the White House in 2016. Sebelius was far from worried, according to the Aspen (Colo.) Daily News: “My guess is that she’ll step on the gas.”

Obamacare costs Californians - LAT: “Limiting the number of medical providers was part of an effort by insurers to hold down premiums. But confusion over the new plans has led to unforeseen medical bills for some patients and prompted a state investigation. More complaints are surfacing as patients start to use their new coverage bought through Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange. ‘I thought I had done everything right, and it's been awful,’ said Jean Buchanan, 56. The Fullerton resident found herself stuck with an $8,000 bill for cancer treatment after receiving conflicting information on whether it was covered. ‘How am I going to come up with that much money?’ Insurers insist that pruning the network of doctors is a crucial cost-cutting measure and a major reason that so many Californians could find affordable coverage in the health law’s first year.”

While the Hawkeye state’s Senate race was once thought to be a snoozer, the rise of Republican Senate hopeful Joni Ernst has changed all that with some polls indicating a tight race. In the latest installment of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, lays out why he is the right man to take over for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Would Braley welcome the help of President Obama on the campaign trail despite his sagging popularity in the state? Watch here and find out.

The Tennessean: “U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Rand Paul will be in Nashville on Monday to host a roundtable discussion about the Affordable Care Act with state health care professionals. Alexander, R-Tenn., and Paul, R-Ky., will speak in a closed-door session with Tennessee officials about the effects of… ‘Obamacare’  and future steps GOP leaders will take about the issue… The event isn’t the first one that the two senators have held together since Paul was elected in 2010. The Kentucky senator was featured in one of Alexander’s campaign ads lauding the passage of the Freedom to Fish Act in 2013. Paul has not endorsed a candidate in Alexander's primary race in August.”

Lexington Kentucky Courier Journal: “…Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D-Mass.] brought her brand of populism to Kentucky on Sunday and urged voters to turn Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell out of office and replace him with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes… Following the rally, Grimes and Warren attended a fundraising event… Grimes refused to take questions following the event, ignoring a gaggle of reporters as she left the Red Barn through a back door and climbed into a black sport utility vehicle… McConnell’s campaign has been critical of the Warren visit, saying that it showed that Grimes is out of touch with Kentucky voters. ‘The multiple e-mails that Alison Lundergan Grimes has sent promoting her upcoming fundraising tour with Massachusetts anti-coal liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren proves that Grimes is no longer hiding, but fully embracing, her far-left Obama allegiances,’ McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a recent release, adding that Grimes is ‘marching in (a) parade of the most anti-Kentucky Obama liberals to bankroll her campaign.’ Both Grimes and Warren noted that the two don't agree on everything but said they agree on many issues.”

Warren blitzes Senate races for blue team - Buzzfeed: “On Sunday, [Sen. Elizabeth Warren] rallied a friendly crowd in Louisville for the state’s Democratic nominee, Alison Lundergan Grimes. Next, she’ll head to West Virginia to stump for Natalie Tennant. She’s already been to Oregon, Minnesota, and Washington State, and more stops are likely to be announced soon. It’s not just her message that Warren’s spreading: According to Warren’s political team, she has raised and given $2.3 million through her PAC, fundraising events, and email solicitations to 28 senate Democratic nominees — including vulnerable red-staters like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Warren’s appeal for Democrats wanting to rally their base is clear: She produces enormous, almost celebrity-like, enthusiasm from supporters.”

Carly Fiorina
is launching the UP Project – “Unlocking Potential” – a political action committee to aid Republicans in confronting Democrats “war on women” attacks. New Today at Fox News Opinion the former Hewlett-Packard CEO shares how the GOP response on women needs to include a strong ground game: “We need to name and to shame every Democratic candidate or group that uses this dishonest, divisive rhetoric in the service of defending terrible policies that leave women out of work, or underemployed. The Republican Party must reach women using more relatable messengers and with fresh messaging, backed by our timeless conservative principles. We must restore traditional modes of outreach and coalition building… This means the Republican Party must put more boots on the ground, not more ‘Gross Rating Points’ on the air.” Fiorina ran for Senate in California in 2010 and now serves as chairwoman of the American Conservative Union Foundation.

Capito builds coalition - Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail: “Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, is announcing today the Women with Shelley coalition. The Capito campaign is bringing together women from across the state who support Capito, who is vying for a U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Capito faces Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in the November election… Women currently hold 99, or 18.5 percent, of seats in Congress, including 79 in the U.S. House of Representatives. No matter who wins the November race, West Virginia is poised to send a woman to the U.S. Senate for the first time in state history.”

Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate. Which six Democrat-held seats are the most vulnerable? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Reader Nick Russo feels Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia are sure bets but feels Republicans will lose Georgia and Democrats will hold on to seats in North Carolina and Louisiana.

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

Fox News: “He’s been called an education visionary, a confidante of the future president and a terrorist, but he’s never had to answer questions like these. William Ayers, who went from leading the Weather Underground in the 1960s and early 1970s to becoming a celebrated academic at University of Illinois, sat down for a no-holds barred interview with Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly, which will air Monday night. Unlike prior interviews with liberal media outlets, Kelly pressed Ayers on how his own girlfriend died with two others while building a nail-filled bomb intended to rip through a dance hall filled with U.S. soldiers, his current wife, once at the top of the FBI’s most wanted list, claimed credit for bombing the home of a federal judge and his admission that he couldn’t ‘rule out’ conducting more terror activities against America. Kelly also asked Ayers just how well he knows President Obama, who lived in the same Chicago neighborhood as Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, prior to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The ‘Kelly File’ exclusive airs at 9 p.m. ET on Monday.” Watch a preview of the interview here.

Fox News colleague Lucas Tomlinson and his wife Anne welcomed baby boy Davis Young Tomlinson over the weekend. Just a warning, Anne: Knowing his father, Davis probably already has a follow-up question ready to go. Congratulations and encouragement from all at the Washington Bureau to the happy family.

Tampa Tribune: “The coming of Independence Day means fireworks season — and the beginning of the institutionalized charade behind their sale in Florida. In the Sunshine State, one does not buy a bottle rocket for recreation; one buys it to scare birds away from farms and fisheries. That’s right: Explosives for pest control. Technically speaking, consumer fireworks are illegal in Florida. But nearly 60 years ago, state lawmakers passed an exception — now the only one of its kind in the United States — for fireworks purchases by farms and fish hatcheries. That’s how vendors, including those in the ubiquitous tents that spring up along Florida roadsides, have gotten around the general fireworks prohibition for years. They simply ask customers to sign forms saying they’re buying under an agricultural or other exemption. There’s also one for illuminating a stretch of railroad.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.