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December 16, 2022

Defending Religious Liberty

A three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a unanimous decision blocking enforcement of the Biden administration's Obamacare transgender mandate.

The mandate actually originated in last-minute regulations issued by the Obama/Biden administration all the way back in 2016. It was another radical assault on faith perpetrated by Big Government through Obamacare. The Obama/Biden administration also brought the full weight of government down on the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious institute dedicated to assisting the elderly poor, over contraception and abortion coverage.

This time the Biden administration was attempting to force religious doctors and medical professionals to perform "gender affirmation" surgeries or sex changes, even if the radical procedures violated the deeply-held religious beliefs of doctors and nurses. (The public opposes this, see Mixed Support for Religious Liberty.)

The Trump administration repealed Obama's 2016 regulations, but Biden's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) quickly moved to reimpose them once they took power. This is just another example of how elections have consequences.

Various faith-based groups, along with a coalition of Catholic hospitals and the Sisters of Mercy, which runs Catholic health clinics, sued the Biden administration to block the transgender mandate and a similar mandate forcing religious doctors and hospitals to perform elective abortions.

This summer, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, ruled against the HHS mandates. Now, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers seven midwestern states, has also struck them down.

For whatever reason, the Biden administration failed to appeal the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court by the November deadline. They now have 60 days to ask the full Eighth Circuit to rehear the case or 90 days to appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

Our response is, "Go ahead, make my day." Both the Eighth Circuit and the Supreme Court have solid conservative majorities. JDFI is confident they will uphold religious freedom against Big Government overreach and radical regulations that seriously threaten our First Amendment liberties.

There are not many pro-family, pro-religious liberty victories these days, but this ruling is a big one we should celebrate.

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