What Does Joe Biden's HHS Nominee Have to Do with the Senate Run-Offs in Georgia?

Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Townhall.com on December 14, 2020.

To those who cares about faith, family, and freedom, Joe Biden’s announcement that he will nominate Xavier Becerra to be his head of the Department of Health and Human Services should set off alarms. Here are three things you need to know about this nomination.

1. Xavier Becerra is the kind of person the Constitution was written to protect you from. 

By all accounts, Becerra is a nice man. He isn’t dangerous because he lacks civility, he’s dangerous because his view of civil liberties is offensive to the Constitution.

As Attorney General of California, he has tried to pressure pro-life doctors and Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. He has also tried to make religious and pro-life organizations pay for abortion.

He has repeatedly said that he believes the First Amendment does not allow religious organizations, businesses, hospitals, or schools to make their own decisions about how to live out their faith. He believes government should tell religious organizations how they are allowed to live out their faith. As a result, he believes people should be punished by the government for following their consciences by declining to decorate a same-sex wedding cake, opting out of abortions, or forgoing the removal of healthy body parts of those who identify as transgender.

Those most enthusiastic about the Becerra nominations are hopeful that he will renew Obama administration efforts to force nuns to pay for birth control despite their religious objections. Becerra has a history of trying to force people to violate their beliefs. He tried to force pro-life pregnancy centers to tell their clients where they can get abortions, but in a case that bears his name, NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court said forcing people to say things they don’t want to say is unconstitutional.

Throughout our history, the greatest threats to civil liberties have not come from sociopaths who want to be dictators but from politicians whose good intentions justify their efforts to tell how others to live. Xavier Becerra is exactly the kind of politician the Constitution was written to protect you from, but Joe Biden wants him in charge of HHS.

2. On life issues, Joe Biden will not be governing from the middle. 

During the presidential campaign, some argued that Biden was a “moderate” and therefore wouldn’t be aggressively pro-abortion. His nomination of Becerra calls this into question.

Becerra, who spent 25 years in Congress, had a 100 percent voting record with NARAL Pro-Choice America. He voted to legalize partial birth abortion, which requires a baby to be partially delivered before its skull is crushed and its brains are sucked out. In 2005, Becerra opposed the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would have made it illegal to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion without parental consent.

When a pro-life activist David Daleiden recorded videos exposing the fact that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling aborted baby body parts, Becerra did nothing to Planned Parenthood but brought charges against Daleiden. It was a move that even the left of center L.A. Times referred to as “disturbingly aggressive.”

He is an aggressive defender of the abortion industry and an aggressive adversary of those who make tangible attempts to protect life. It would be difficult to find someone more pro-abortion than Becerra. Biden’s willingness to nominate him to this position is a strong indication that he has no interest in governing as a moderate on life issues.

3. Senate Elections in Georgia Are Really Important

Two Georgia run-off elections in January will determine which party holds the majority in the U.S. Senate. The Becerra nomination reinforces the importance of these races.

Becerra will need to be confirmed by the Senate. Given his record of hostility to the beliefs of millions of America, he should not be confirmed. Any hope of stopping his nomination depends on the Republicans’ ability to retain control of the U.S. Senate.

If he is confirmed, the Supreme Court will have to ensure HHS does not exceed constitutional limits. The Supreme Court has rebuffed Becerra in the past. It might need to do so in the future.

Democrat control of all three branches of our federal government could lead to court-packing schemes that would effectively turn the Supreme Court and lower federal courts into extensions of the Biden administration.

In this scenario, it is unlikely our First Amendment rights would survive. It’s up to the voters in Georgia to make sure this doesn’t happen.