SCOTUS on the Campaign Trail: Dems Want Hobby Lobby to Swing Critical Senate Race

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) attacked both the Hobby Lobby U.S. Supreme Court decision and Republican Terri Lynn Land over the 5-4 vote that came down in favor of closely held businesses being able to decide whether they would offer contraceptive coverage to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.

The Michigan Democratic Party took the opportunity to again blast Land, issuing several press releases July 1 attacking Land for what the state party described as her “radical agenda” on birth control and her initial silence on the Hobby Lobby ruling.

"I support access to birth control, but closely held companies should not be forced by the government to take actions that violate their religious beliefs," Land said in a statement late Tuesday after Democrats began their onslaught.

Land’s campaign spokeswoman Heather Swift told the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine May 29 that Land “does not support legislation that would ban access to birth control like the pill or IUD.”

Yet Swift declined to say whether Land would deny access to emergency contraception commonly known as “morning-after pills.”

Peters and Land, Michigan’s most recent former secretary of state, are locked in what is seen by Democrats and Republicans as one of the six key U.S. Senate races in the 2014 midterm elections.

Democrats want to hold on to the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Republicans want to win back the seat they have not held since Spencer Abraham was defeated by Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat who has served in the Senate since 2000.

The Peters campaign said June 30 the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case amounts to discrimination against women and Peters believes that women should be making their healthcare decisions with their doctors without interference from their employers.

Peters for Michigan also attacked Land for supporting two proposals to amend the Constitution to define personhood, what he said would limit access to contraception and outlaw abortion without exception for rape, incest, or life of the mother.

Peters promised that he would continue to fight “extreme efforts to discriminate unfairly against Michigan women” by limiting access to contraception.

If the Hobby Lobby ruling turns out to be as important to women voters as the Democrats predict (and hope), it could be more than problematic in this race.

Peters has led Land in the last six polls, including the most recent from the Democrat-leaning firm Public Policy Polling that was released July 1.

The PPP poll of Michigan voters shows Peters is still a relative unknown outside of Metro Detroit. Forty-six percent of voters do not have an opinion on him. Despite this, Peters leads Land by 5 points at 41 percent to 36 percent.

Most importantly, the PPP poll shows 42 percent of women already view her unfavorably and 31 percent favorably, while Peters rings up a 28 percent favorable rating and 22 percent unfavorable rating among women.

This is not the first time Land has been caught on the horns of the contraceptive debate in Michigan.

Land recently accepted the endorsement of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that supports requiring women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds before having an abortion. The group also rallied to Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s defense in 2012 when he said that pregnancy from rape was "something that God intended."