Another day, another reminder that in practice our representative republic far too often runs as an unelected oligarchy.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that Judge Wendy Beetlestone has issued a temporary injunction blocking President Donald Trump’s executive order that began to cancel out the Obama Administration’s infamous contraception mandate.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, had filed a lawsuit against rolling back the mandate, and calls this injunction “a critical victory for millions of women and families and for the rule of law.” A victory for religious Americans, the First Amendment, and preborn girls? Not so much.
Shapiro’s victory came after arguments in front of Judge Wendy Bettlestone Thursday, where the A.G. contended that the rollback would harm Pennsylvania’s 2.5 million women. Dr. Cynthia Chuang, of Penn State University, testified before Bettlestone that the rollback would cause “serious medical harm,” including unintended pregnancies, Courthouse News reports.
The government disagreed with this argument when, in October, Trump ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to allow for fairly broad-based religious and moral exemptions to the mandate.
The mandate itself, propagated under ObamaCare, required employers to pay for contraception as part of the insurance they provide for their female employees. Religious entities, including many Catholic-affiliated organizations, objected, citing moral concerns as to the propriety of contraceptives.
Those objections, and the Obama administration’s various attempts to accommodate them, eventually made their way to the Supreme Court. There, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Court found that closely held corporations could claim a religious conscience exemption; a similar case, Zubik v. Burwell, was underway at the time of the Trump rollback.
The administration expected in October that only a few organizations — as few as 200 — will take advantage of the expanded exceptions. A senior administration official said then that it was expected that 99.9 percent of women will be unimpacted by this new rule.
As a matter of policy, the argument of “serious medical harm” is ludicrous for the simple fact that contraception is cheap and widely available, and ensurers or providers who don’t want to subsidize it for birth-control purposes generally have no problem making exceptions for cases in which contraceptive drugs are used for their secondary purpose of treating specific medical conditions.
But ultimately, it’s not courts’ job to decide what’s good or bad policy; it’s their job to decide whether the Constitution allows it. And by every objective measure, this decision makes a mockery of the Constitution: the Bill of Rights’ prohibition against infringing on free exercises of religion is clear, the Constitution nowhere empowers the federal government to coerce economic activity among private citizens and entities, and even the mandate had been legally permissible, it obviously can’t be unconstitutional for an executive order to simply undo or modify a previous executive order.
There aren’t two sides to this madness: conservatives want a government of laws, rights, and elections, while leftists are openly attempting to secure the outcomes they want through judicial fraud. It’s absolute madness, and appointing better judges won’t be enough to stop it. We need a crop of conservative senators and congressmen willing to start impeaching judges and curtailing their power, and a White House willing to not only fight judicial frauds in court, but defy them when necessary.