‘Great news’: Deadline for Biden admin to appeal transgender mandate quietly passes

Religious liberty groups are celebrating as the November 25th deadline to appeal a federal court ruling that struck down a mandate that would force doctors to perform gender reassignment surgeries has passed.

Friday was the last day the Biden administration had to appeal the decision of a federal court in late August of this year. The ruling pertains to an Obama-era mandate that managed to hang on during the Trump years, and into Biden’s first term. The law in question wasn’t able to be enforced for the majority of its life, but a 2020 Supreme Court decision saw it come to life.

In 2020 the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 included provisions barring discrimination due to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” though those terms weren’t included in the original draft of the bill.

Xavier Becerra, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced in 2021 that HHS would be would interpreting and enforcing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Title IX’s preclusion of “sex discrimination” under the guise of the Bostock ruling. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act was written during former President Barack Obama’s tenure, but the legislation lacked the Supreme Court precedent to carry legal consequences until 2020.

HHS’s reinterpretation of Section 1557 in light of the Bostock ruling prohibited doctors from refusing to carry out gender reassignment surgeries or procedures if the patient had been referred by a mental health expert. Once enacted, the law was met with significant pushback. Nine states, several religious organizations, and a group of over 19,000 healthcare professionals challenged the law in federal court.

In August, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the mandate was unlawful, and that medical professionals could abstain from performing the controversial procedures due to their religious beliefs. Though the ruling only applies to religious exemptions, it does appear to be a step in the right direction for those concerned with a doctor’s conscience rights.

The Biden administration had until Friday, November 25th, to appeal the court’s decision, and now that the deadline has passed, the Fifth Circuit’s ruling appears to set a precedent for now.

Luke Goodrich of Becket, a non-profit law firm committed to the free expression of all religions in America, celebrated the victory, calling it “Great news.”

“Many see the procedures as physically harmful with no psychological benefits–especially when performed on children,” he tweeted. “The ruling was a successful step in the fight to protect doctors’ conscience rights.”

“The final demise of this unconscionable mandate is a major victory for conscience rights and compassionate medical care in America,” Goodrich told Fox News Digital. “Thousands of doctors will be able to do their jobs without the government requiring them to perform harmful, irreversible procedures against their conscience and medical expertise.”

A similar case is being deliberated in the Eighth Circuit currently. In January 2021, a Catholic healthcare provider and the state of South Dakota challenged the federal mandate in court and were successful. The Biden administration appealed the decision to the higher court, and a ruling is expected in the coming weeks.

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