Trump Selling Out Religious Conservatives?
President Donald Trump promised religious groups he would reverse the Obama administration’s requirement that employers provide birth control to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.
But his Justice Department indicated Monday that it’s continuing to fight religious groups who are suing over the contraception mandate.
Conservatives who oppose the birth control mandate on religious liberty grounds are bewildered by the move at a Justice Department headed by former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is well known for his conservative views.
And many had expected the Department of Health and Human Services, now led by another conservative, former representative Tom Price, R-Ga., to change the Obama administration’s underlying rule to fully exempt religious colleges, schools and charities from covering birth control. But HHS has not proposed any rule changes and didn’t respond to a request Monday about whether there are plans to do so.
As things stand now, it appears that Justice plans to continue defending the way the Obama administration applied the birth-control mandate, said Eric Rassbach, a Becket [Fund] attorney.
“That just seems to be very contrary to what they’ve been saying publicly,” Rassbach said.
The best-case scenario is that this is mere incompetence on the part of an administration still in its first 100 days. The Post notes that “Justice argued in its petition…that it needs more time to litigate the case because numerous Cabinet and subcabinet positions in several federal agencies involved remain unfilled several months into the new administration.” Perhaps they really do just need to get butts in seats in order to put the wheels in motion to end the fight.
I’ve also heard it suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants this to be decided by the Supreme Court now that Trump’s pick in Neil Gorsuch is safely aboard. But until he comes out saying that’s his plan, this move will be cause for concern.
This doesn’t look good. At all. I find it hard to believe that Jeff Sessions agrees with this move. If he doesn’t, the AG had better say so loud and clear. Now.
Let’s hope this is a bureaucratic oversight. If Trump wimps out on this one, all bets are off. This is about as basic as it gets for religious conservatives.