If Mr. Trump wanted—as he said he did, pinky swear—he could exempt the Little Sisters of the Poor from the contraception mandate with an executive order. He has issued twenty-five of them, so he knows what they are. The mandate is not part of the language of the ACA, so the fact that Congress did not overturn it does not in any way compel Mr. Trump to enforce it and fight on its behalf in Court.
And yet, according to the Washington Post, the Trump Administration has decided to continue the government’s legal battle against the Little Sisters of the Poor:
The department has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit for an additional 60 days to negotiate with East Texas Baptist University and several other religious groups objecting to a requirement to which they are morally opposed.
Now, why is the Trump Administration still attempting to “negotiate” if it is on the side of the Sisters, Texas Baptist, and the rest? Is there a sense in this? If Mr. Trump thinks that President Obama had violated religious liberty—remember, he said so—then how now?
The Post tries to cast this in the best light possible. Perhaps, it says, the Justice Department is trying to “buy time.” Peradventure Mr. Trump is just plotting his next strong blow against Obamacare.
But Mr. Trump has already proven he can issue executive orders like lightning. What’s one more? Call in Tom Price; call in Jeff Sessions. Tell them we’re not going to defend the mandate. I support religious freedom. Why the need to buy time?
Even the Post casts doubts on its own speculation:
But the lack of clarity from the Trump administration is dismaying to several religious organizations, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns that fought the mandate for several years but expected an immediate reprieve under the Republican president. They believed that either the Justice Department would halt its appeal in the case or the administration would seek a rule change from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Trump pledged during the campaign that as president he’d side with the mandate’s opponents, indicating to Catholic leaders that he would ensure the requirement was lifted.
Let’s not delude ourselves here—Mr. Trump doesn’t need to seek permission for a rule change from HHS. He can order the rule change. But he hasn’t done so. Instead he continues to play tiddlywinks. Why?
Oh, yeah, everyone expected a rule change. Trump is on the side of the nuns. He is on the side of religious freedom. Pinky swear. Pro-life Catholics everywhere said we must vote for Trump because he will end the mandate and he will crush abortion like the serpent’s head. Pinky swear. We’ll get no religoius freedom under Hillary; we must vote Trump; he’s on our side; trust me; you’ll see.
Well? I told you so.
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