On Thursday, the U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Xavier Becerra as secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS), 50 to 49. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined the Democrats in voting for Becerra. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who would almost certainly have voted for Becerra, was absent.
Becerra’s confirmation sends a chilling message to pro-life Americans and Americans of faith. Yet conservatives aren’t taking it lying down. As soon as the Senate confirmed Becerra, Republicans and conservative groups announced that they would keep up the pressure to fight for the religious liberty Becerra threatens.
Becerra has no medical experience, but he has a long track record of promoting leftist social issues and silencing those who disagree. As California attorney general, Becerra continued the prosecution of pro-life journalist David Daleiden (after Kamala Harris began it). Becerra also vigorously defended a California law that would have forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortion — before the Supreme Court struck it down. Becerra also targeted the Little Sisters of the Poor after the Trump administration provided an exemption for the nuns the Obamacare contraception mandate.
Becerra also sued the Trump HHS after the agency struck down an Obama-era rule forcing transgender ideology in health care. He also furthered Kamala Harris’s policy of demanding that nonprofit organizations turn over their donor lists, which would likely expose the donors to harassment, especially since the California attorney general’s office has previously leaked this kind of donor information.
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After Becerra’s confirmation, conservatives girded their loins to face the threat.
“The Senate has just narrowly confirmed an extremist, Xavier Becerra, to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services,” Kristen Waggoner, general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the pro-life pregnancy centers before the Supreme Court in a case against Becerra, said in a statement.
“From his new role, we expect Mr. Becerra will continue his attack on the civil liberties of those with whom he disagrees. However, his confirmation will not stop ADF from our steadfast commitment to advocate for religious liberty, free speech, the protection of life, and parental rights, even if it means meeting him once again at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Waggoner added.
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), the pro-life pregnancy center coalition that successfully sued Becerra at the Supreme Court, warned Becerra that it would gladly defend the pro-life movement’s free speech in court again, if necessary.
“We will continue to protect the free speech rights of our movement’s leaders as they support women and save lives across our nation,” Anne O’Connor, NIFLA’s vice president of legal affairs, said in a statement. “Becerra will rue the day he attempts to use his position in the U.S. government to attack pregnancy centers again. His anti-life bullying will not be tolerated.”
“Becerra’s extreme views are a threat to women’s health, pregnancy centers and free speech,” O’Connor added. “See you in court,” she warned.
“Xavier Becerra is a dangerous ideologue who has made a career of attacking long-held religious freedom protections and using his office to pursue a partisan political agenda,” First Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel Justin Butterfield said in a statement. “His policy position as Attorney General in seeking to force the public disclosure of donors to non-profit organizations is so extreme that organizations from the ACLU the PETA submitted briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court challenging him. By choosing Xavier Becerra as his Secretary of HHS, President Biden has sent a clear message that people of faith are not respected under his administration.”
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, noted Becerra’s heinous attacks on pro-life Americans and declared that “pro-life Americans will be keeping a close eye on Becerra’s agenda and will continue to speak out in defense of women and the unborn.”
“Becerra isn’t right for the job because in the middle of a global pandemic the Department of Health and Human Services needs to be focused on health and human services. Becerra is a culture warrior who made his name in bloody-knuckled politics by bullying nuns. This confirmation fight is over, but I’m going to keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that Congress defends First Amendment freedoms when bureaucrats and regulators put partisan agendas ahead of constitutional protections,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) declared.
By nominating Becerra, Joe Biden confirmed that his presidency represents a threat to religious freedom. Americans of conscience should be shocked and horrified that Biden would nominate the radical Becerra with his track record of silencing dissent. By doing this, Biden exposed his true colors and that should alienate millions of Americans.
Make no mistake: Joe Biden is no moderate, and Becerra is one more glaring piece of evidence to that effect. Americans need to unite against the president’s dangerous agenda to silence conservatives, and conservatives should gird their loins for the coming battles ahead.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.