Court Knocks HHS Un-conscience
Barack Obama said goodbye to the White House two years ago — but thanks to an army of activist judges, he never really left. In windowless courtrooms across America, Obama’s policies live on, despite the fact that so many of them were unconstitutional to begin with! Meet the judicial #Resistance — a bigger threat to Donald Trump’s presidency, David French fears, than Democrats themselves.
Over the last couple of days, a pair of federal judges decided to prove French’s point, ruling — separately — that a policy created by the executive branch suddenly can’t be changed by the executive branch. (At least, not when that executive branch is headed by Donald Trump.) That’s especially shocking when it comes to Obama’s contraception mandate, a policy that’s already lost 90 percent of its cases in court. By and large, everyone but a handful of militant pro-abortion groups agrees: no American should be forced to pay for someone else’s birth control — or face thousands of dollars in fines.
Last year, President Trump tried to close the chapter on one of Obama’s worst assaults on religious liberty. Under a new rule, which was supposed to take effect Monday, the conscience exemptions for the HHS mandate wouldn’t just apply to faith-based groups, but to any employer with a moral or religious objection to drugs like Plan B. Nothing about that should be controversial. Unlike Obama’s mandate, it’s in line with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — and, more importantly, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As most Americans have acknowledged for years, there are plenty of options for free birth control that don’t involve bankrupting nuns, religious schools, charities, or businesses who don’t march to the beat of the Left’s radical drum.
Unfortunately, two judges in California and Pennsylvania don’t see it that way. After a rare Sunday ruling that blocked Trump’s exemptions from taking effect in 13 states, U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone took things a step further on Monday — blocking HHS’s new rule nationwide. According to Judge Haywood Gilliam, fining a group $100 per person, per day wasn’t what he considered a substantial burden on their faith. Tell that to the Catholic Benefits Association (CBA), who racked up $6.9 billion worth of penalties for exercising the freedom that brought our founders to this country.
“No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our health care system,” an HHS spokeswoman said in a statement Sunday night. “The final rules affirm the Trump administration’s commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution.” What’s more, David French argues, the number of people affected by the change are less than one percent of the female workforce! “And, keep in mind, each one of the affected women has voluntarily chosen to work for her employer. There are ample alternative choices if these women choose to prioritize contraception access in their employment decision. But no. Even that tiny concession to religious liberty was too much for [these judges].”
The HHS mandate wasn’t an act of Congress. It wasn’t even, French points out, a regulation. “But what one administration creates by memo another administration can revoke by memo — correct? Well, not if you’re a federal judge who believes he’s resisting bad policy. Then you elevate the Obama-administration action to (at the very least) the level of a regulation, and you require the incoming administration to apply statutory procedures that the outgoing administration actively and intentionally scorned.” President Trump is a fighter. And considering the legal battle he has on his hands at every turn, that’s a good thing.
If there is any consolation about the non-stop obstruction at the courts, it’s that this administration has spent the better part of two years trying to correct it. Together with the Republican Senate, the White House is slowly bringing the bench back in line with an influx of strict constructionists who look to the constitution and the law — not their own political prejudices — to rule. Future conservatives may have Trump to thank for a judicial system that finally understands its limits. Whether or not it will be in time for this president to shake free from the courts’ #Resistance, no one knows.
Originally published here.
Unborn in the U.S.A.
Heading into Friday’s March for Life, some Republicans are already taking their first steps: bills to put the protection of the unborn front and center. House leadership may have changed, but the GOP is counting on the fact that American opinion has not. Abortion isn’t health care, and it’s time our laws reflected that.
From Obama’s abortion surcharge to the contraception mandate, Americans are more involved than ever in the procedure that so many oppose. Young or old, Republican or moderate, they agree: there’s absolutely no reason that taxpayers should be on the hook for a dangerous, deadly, and almost always elective procedure. Now, with hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers en route to Washington, D.C., House and Senate pro-lifers want them to know they’re doing what they can to make the bucks stop here.
If they succeed, voters from both parties would cheer. “By a double-digit margin,” Marist’s new survey points out, “a majority of all Americans oppose any taxpayer funding of abortion (54 percent to 39 percent).” That’s great news for Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Pat Roberts (R-Kans.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.), who just introduced S.109, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
“Regardless of Americans’ beliefs on the issue of life, one thing remains clear: the federal government does not need to help fund abortions,” Lankford said. “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act ensures that Americans who strongly disagree with abortions are not forced to pay for them with their federal tax dollars. We must continue to take steps to move our nation and our culture closer to holding all human lives sacred regardless of a person’s size or degree of dependency. This bill brings us closer to that goal… I am proud to join my colleagues to continue to value life at all stages and ensure our nation also protects women and their important healthcare needs. We can and should do both.”
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion would make the Hyde Amendment permanent federal law and apply it across the government to ensure that no matter which political party is in power, taxpayers won’t be forking over their hard-earned money for a procedure that takes an innocent human life.
Now that Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen is admitting that abortion is the group’s first priority, it’s time to stop splitting hairs and cut Congress’s ties. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) have a pair of proposals that would do exactly that: the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2019. “In its latest annual report,” Rep. Hartzler points out, “Planned Parenthood boasts performing more than 321,000 abortions while receiving over half a billion dollars a year from the taxpayer. These staggering numbers represent the lives of children who no longer are with us, and Americans are forced to support it.”
And it’s not just Planned Parenthood who’s benefiting from Congress — it’s a lot of abortion groups. New Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and her former House colleague Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) have a solution for that too. Under their companion bills, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, any business that takes innocent unborn life wouldn’t be eligible for “family planning” funds. If their measures passed, it would blow a huge hole in the bank account of Wen’s organization. Good riddance, Blackburn says. “Hardworking taxpayers do not want to subsidize the business of abortion providers and entities such as Planned Parenthood.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.