Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Health and Human Services’

Supreme Court rules: here’s the good news and the bad news

Posted by M. C. on January 13, 2022

Tom Woods

First, the bad news.

The Supreme Court has upheld the vaccination requirement for health-care workers as a condition for receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Opinions like this one are maddening to read, because they confine themselves to questions such as whether the Secretary of Health and Human Services exceeded his congressionally granted authority when imposing this requirement. The Court then proceeds to explain that the Secretary has been understood to enjoy a very broad authority when it comes to imposing requirements regarding the administration of Medicare and Medicaid.

Not considered is where the federal government’s authority to intervene in matters involving health, whether or not given statutory expression by Congress or delegated to a health bureaucrat, derives from or how it can be justified.

Perhaps this ruling will lead to further growth in direct primary care practices, which accept neither Medicare nor Medicaid, nor even traditional insurance. That is another question.

The good news is very good: the OSHA vaccine mandate for employees of businesses with 100 or more workers has been blocked.

Such a measure, the Court says, constitutes a vast overreach by OSHA into the more general field of public health, where it has not been granted authority.

It would have been nicer to hear an opinion based on the nature of what was being demanded as opposed to whether the institution doing the demanding was the correct one.

But I’ll take what I can get.

I pulled out some relevant passages from the opinion of the Court:

“Although COVID– 19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather. That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization….

“OSHA’s indiscriminate approach fails to account for this crucial distinction— between occupational risk and risk more generally—and accordingly the mandate takes on the character of a general public health measure, rather than an ‘occupational safety or health standard….’

Justice Gorsuch concurred with the Court, and was joined by Justices Thomas and Alito in a concurring opinion from which I draw the following passages (internal footnotes omitted):

“I start with this Court’s precedents. There is no question that state and local authorities possess considerable power to regulate public health. They enjoy the ‘general power of governing,’ including all sovereign powers envisioned by the Constitution and not specifically vested in the federal government.

“The federal government’s powers, however, are not general but limited and divided. Not only must the federal government properly invoke a constitutionally enumerated source of authority to regulate in this area or any other. It must also act consistently with the Constitution’s separation of powers. And when it comes to that obligation, this Court has established at least one firm rule: ‘We expect Congress to speak clearly’ if it wishes to assign to an executive agency decisions ‘of vast economic and political significance.’ We sometimes call this the major questions doctrine. OSHA’s mandate fails that doctrine’s test. The agency claims the power to force 84 million Americans to receive a vaccine or undergo regular testing. By any measure, that is a claim of power to resolve a question of vast national significance. Yet Congress has nowhere clearly assigned so much power to OSHA….

“The question before us is not how to respond to the pandemic, but who holds the power to do so. The answer is clear: Under the law as it stands today, that power rests with the States and Congress, not OSHA. In saying this much, we do not impugn the intentions behind the agency’s mandate. Instead, we only discharge our duty to enforce the law’s demands when it comes to the question who may govern the lives of 84 million Americans. Respecting those demands may be trying in times of stress. But if this Court were to abide them only in more tranquil conditions, declarations of emergencies would never end and the liberties our Constitution’s separation of powers seeks to preserve would amount to little.”

This does not solve all problems, obviously. Some private entities will persist in vaccine mandates despite their injustice, irrationality, and general uselessness. Other problems, like vaccine passports, are occurring at the local level and must be dealt with at the local level — though we can hope they will resolve themselves as they destroy business and tourism.

But it is a start.

Just yesterday on the Tom Woods Show I spoke to the owner of an art gallery in New York City who is refusing to demand proof of vaccination from his patrons.

He’s a lifelong Democrat and his parents are civil-rights lawyers.

He feels like he is carrying on their tradition.

We can hope that more such people will be emboldened to speak out.

In the meantime, you will enjoy this important conversation:
Tom Woods

Be seeing you

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Biden’s Ultimate Plan to Thwart Religious Freedom – The American Spectator | USA News and Politics

Posted by M. C. on November 30, 2021

In other words, the fulfillment of liberalism’s abortion rights and LGBTQ agenda requires suppressing religious freedom. Biden is itching to secularize Catholic hospitals in particular, because they provide treatment to such a large number of Americans.

Obey or you don’t get the money the government stole from you back.

by George Neumayr

Joe Biden’s secularism pervades the federal government. He is rooting out all the rules and regulations that his predecessor established in defense of religious freedom. Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rescinded Donald Trump’s rule protecting religious foster care and adoption agencies. Biden seeks to cut off federal funding to any such agencies that do not conform to his LGBTQ agenda.

Xavier Becerra, Biden’s HHS Secretary, dismissed Trump’s rule as “a blanket use of religious exemptions against any person or blank checks to allow discrimination against any persons, importantly including LGBTQ+ persons in taxpayer-funded programs.”

According to National Catholic Register, Becerra is also hatching a broad plan to wipe out the religious freedom of health-care providers — a rule that would force them to “comply with abortion and gender-transition agendas.” The publication reports that the Biden administration is working with secularist groups to formulate this new rule, which would go far beyond Barack Obama’s contraceptive mandate.

In a recent legal filing, HHS acknowledged the existence of a “health-care task force of activist groups coordinated by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights that included Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for American Progress, the Human Rights Campaign and others,” reports National Catholic Register. “HHS was discussing with these groups how to change the rule for Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.”

This change would crush religious hospitals. They would find themselves under a mandate to perform transgender surgeries and abortions. “There’s no place to hide from this,” Doug Wilson, CEO of the Catholic Benefits Association, said to National Catholic Register. The rule change, he said, “would effectively remove all religious considerations from issues around life, family, marriage, the very nature of men and women.”

HHS is working off a memo put together by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights that treats the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as a hindrance to be ignored. The memo asserts that “RFRA is not a prophylactic statute that imposes rulemaking requirements on government agencies.” National Catholic Register also reports that the memo “takes explicit aim at religious exemptions from government mandates and specifically criticizes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ‘Ethical and Religious Directives’ that govern Catholic health-care providers.”

“Religious exemptions have serious and harmful implications,” says the memo. “They were thought of as a way to preserve religious freedom and independence. However, they often come as a societal cost that can impact other community members. Impacts of a religious exemption cannot be siloed from other areas of society.”

In other words, the fulfillment of liberalism’s abortion rights and LGBTQ agenda requires suppressing religious freedom. Biden is itching to secularize Catholic hospitals in particular, because they provide treatment to such a large number of Americans.

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori calls HHS’s plans “breathtaking in their scope and completely lacking in any religious-freedom provisions.”

“I am very concerned that such rulemaking is now in process,” Lori told National Catholic Register. “I think it is important that dioceses, religious orders and Catholic apostolates of all kinds be aware early on this is coming down the track. And it is not simply about covering things in our insurance plans, objectionable as that is, but it’s also about the providing of [objectionable] services, particularly on the part of our health-care ministries.”

During the Obama era, the late Chicago Cardinal Francis George mused that Catholic hospital directories might one day become souvenirs, as Catholic hospitals “close” under secularist edicts. He thought that those hospitals would go bankrupt under punishing fines or simply be “co-opted” by the federal government. He noted that the secularists, far from respecting the separation of church and state, sought to control the religious: “The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church.”

He was right. Obama was turning the federal government into a national religion of wokeness — a project utterly at odds with the First Amendment that Biden hopes to complete.

Be seeing you

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