There will be a lot of material for Xavier Becerra’s, Joe Biden’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary, opponents to work with during his confirmation hearings, but his targeting the Little Sisters of the Poor should be disqualifying on its own.
The roots of the Becerra litigation, of course, are in the contraception mandate imposed by Barack Obama’s HHS as part of Obamacare back in 2011. How radical is his litigation? Let’s count the ways.
First, Becerra sued after the nuns had already been through the wringer and promised, a little like the groundhog seeing his shadow, several more years of litigation.
Second, the HHS exemption has nothing to do with California. Obamacare isn’t a California law, and HHS isn’t a California agency. There is no harm to California if the federal government decides it must provide an exemption to the nuns. Indeed, it is probably unprecedented for one sovereign jurisdiction to sue to prevent another sovereign jurisdiction from changing its own rules to protect religious liberty. In a word, this is crazy.
Third, what Becerra seeks is a crushing burden on the nuns. If they don’t sign onto an arrangement that they believe violates their faith, Becerra wants them, in keeping with the Obama mandate, to be subject to daily fines that would add up to tens of millions of dollars annually. And, remember, these aren’t “corporate polluters,” they aren’t insider traders, they aren’t tech giants; they are an order of nuns founded by a saint who begged in the streets of 18th-century France so she could carry out her charitable work.
Fourth, his suit lacks all merit. There was no reason to think that a mandate created by an executive agency also couldn’t have a carveout created by an executive agency. Plus, there was never any plausible claim of any harm — Becerra has not found one alleged victim, not one actual woman, who has been prevented from obtaining contraception because of the religious beliefs of the Little Sisters.
Full story at National Review.