Religious liberty group hails Biden admin.'s move not to appeal ruling against trans mandate

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden | White House/Adam Schultz

A religious liberty law firm is declaring victory after the Biden administration failed to appeal a court decision blocking a federal mandate requiring medical facilities and staff to perform body mutilating gender transition surgeries, despite religious objections.

Luke Goodrich of Becket Law took to Twitter Monday to announce that the administration had not filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court regarding an earlier decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocking the mandate.

“The Biden admin.’s transgender mandate — requiring doctors and hospitals to perform gender transitions against conscience and best medical judgment — has been struck down. And the admin. has declined to appeal to #SCOTUS — meaning this win is FINAL,” Goodrich tweeted.

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“The medical professionals that challenged the mandate happily serve all patients, regardless of sex or gender identity. But they can’t perform these procedures, which are widely disputed in the medical community.”

Goodrich went on to note that while the decision “was a successful step in the fight to protect doctors’ conscience rights,” litigation “continues in the Eighth Circuit, where we expect a ruling soon.”

In 2016, the Obama administration implemented a regulation via Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that required healthcare providers to perform so-called gender transition procedures, including on minors, despite medical employees' religious objections.

The Obama administration interpreted the federal ban on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, even though neither term is found in official civil rights law.

Although former President Donald Trump moved to repeal the 2016 rule, some courts restored parts of the mandate, and President Joe Biden revived the rule upon taking office.

The Biden administration justified its actions by citing the 2020 Supreme Court decision Bostock v. Clayton County, which concluded sex discrimination protections in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The statute’s message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch for the majority.

“That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

However, Gorsuch acknowledged in the majority opinion that claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “might supersede Title VII’s commands in appropriate cases.”

The Obama-era rule has been the subject of much litigation from religious groups and others, including the case of Franciscan Alliance, Inc. et al. v. Xavier Becerra.

In August, a Fifth Circuit three-judge panel released a unanimous decision in favor of the Franciscan Alliance, upholding a lower court’s permanent injunction against the mandate.

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