Tags: Abortion | Healthcare Reform | U.S. Supreme Court

GOP Clashes Over Mo. Attorney General Race

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"Hobby Lobby" protest: US Supreme Court, 2014 (AP)  

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Friday, 11 Dec 2015 08:48 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Nine months before Missouri Republicans select a nominee for state attorney general, the race between former “Hobby Lobby” case co-counsel Josh Hawley and State Sen. Kurt Schaefer is increasingly drawing nationwide attention.

In part, it is because the office of attorney general has recently been drawn into controversial issues on the national agenda. Attorneys general in many states have filed suits challenging Obamacare, the president’s executive orders mandating tougher Co2 emissions standards, or public display of the Ten Commandments.


But the Republican primary for attorney general of the Show Me State is particularly newsworthy because the contest between Hawley and Schaefer strongly mirrors that of the factional clash within the Republican Party nationally: between centrist “establishment” Republicans and the more conservative “outsider” faction that includes “tea partiers.”

“I think that’s pretty accurate,” Hawley told me, “since I believe, first and foremost, that our state’s top legal official has to strictly interpret our federal and state constitutions. That’s what I’m about.”

A native of Kansas City and graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School, Hawley was a clerk for Chief Justice John Roberts and then entered private practice.

But Hawley is best known for his work as counsel to the Becket Fund, which is dedicated to protection of religious liberty. As one of the co-counsels in the celebrated “Hobby Lobby” case last year, the Missouri man helped sculpt the case that the Green family (which owned the Hobby Lobby chain of stores) could not be compelled to pay for four types of contraceptives as part of their health insurance for employees.

On June 30, 2014, by a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court agreed and for the first time recognized a for-profit corporation’s claim of religious beliefs.

In striking contrast, opponent Schaefer was the lone Republican in the Missouri senate to vote against a bill in 2012 that would have exempted business owners with religious objections from paying for services requiring abortion-inducing drugs or contraceptives.

Schaefer, according to the Columbia (Mo.) “Daily Tribune,” “was elected in a traditionally Democratic district and served terms as a moderate, even liberal” lawmaker who “crafted a moderate, even progressive record.”

He lived up to the Tribune’s assessment by strongly advocating a massive increase on cigarette taxes that was turned down by Missouri voters last year and opposing tort reform measures.

To no one’s surprise, Schaefer has received $136,500 from trial attorneys throughout his stint in office and in 2012 became one of the few Republicans in the state to be endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

The nature of Hawley’s support is quite different. Recently, three swashbuckling conservative attorneys general from other states — Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma, Adam Laxalt of Nevada, and Mark Brnovich of Arizona — co-hosted a fundraiser on Hawley's behalf.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.                                                                                                                                                    



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John-Gizzi
Nine months before Missouri Republicans select a nominee for state attorney general, the race between former “Hobby Lobby” case co-counsel Josh Hawley and State Sen. Kurt Schaefer is increasingly drawing nationwide attention.
Abortion, Healthcare Reform, U.S. Supreme Court
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2015-48-11
Friday, 11 Dec 2015 08:48 AM
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