“The work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law,” President Joe Biden said in response to the Capitol riot. “Politics is about solving problems, not stoking the flames of hate and chaos.”
If Biden truly believes that, he should withdraw Xavier Becerra from his nomination to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
Becerra is neither a doctor nor a public health professional who is qualified to direct America’s doctors and scientists during a pandemic. Instead, Becerra is a lawyer and a politician with a long and disgraceful history of abusing the powers of high office, including as attorney general of California. His principal accomplishment during his shameful tenure is harassing and silencing pro-lifers.
For example, as attorney general, Becerra brought 15 felony charges against the investigative journalists who released footage of Planned Parenthood staff discussing how they sell the body parts of aborted children for profit. These videos shocked the nation’s conscience and exposed the lies of the abortion industry.
But to Becerra, they represented an opportunity to use the full power of the state to suppress the freedom of speech. While the journalists did violate non-disclosure agreements in releasing the footage, a similar transgression of an NDA that revealed a corporate cover-up related to environmental waste or another pet liberal cause would likely have been forgiven through prosecutorial discretion.
Becerra did not confine his anti-life campaign to California, however. Flouting the crucial principle of state sovereignty, his office pursued litigation against other states that sought to ban late-term abortions. This arrogant action contradicts the will of over 90% of Americans, including large majorities who call themselves broadly “pro-choice,” who want to see this grisly form of abortion banned, according to a 2019 Harvard/Harris poll. It also raises questions about whether Becerra, as HHS secretary, will ignore federal laws protecting the rights of conscience and use the vast powers of the administrative state to unilaterally create new rules that discriminate against pro-life individuals and organizations.
But perhaps the most worrying part of Becerra’s record is his aggressive abuse of power despite repeated judicial rebuke. During Becerra’s tenure as California AG, the Supreme Court rightly ruled that California could not force crisis pregnancy centers to hand out state-provided pamphlets with abortion providers’ contact information.
Yet with the ink hardly dried on this stinging defeat, Becerra’s office attempted to similarly harass the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic nun’s organization that cares for the elderly and infirmed. Against common sense and Catholic teaching, Becerra tried to force them to provide employees contraceptives and abortifacients that contradicted their core teachings. Yet again, the Supreme Court set Becerra straight. But now, President Biden won’t say whether his administration will replicate Becerra’s attacks on the Little Sisters.
For these reasons, Becerra is clearly the wrong man to lead the Health and Human Services Department. He is not a public health professional who can help get vaccines into the arms of Americans; he is a fanatic whose willingness to use the administrative state to enforce pro-abortion extremism is uncommon even by the standards of today’s Democratic Party. If given the reins of this powerful bureaucracy, he would likely continue to abuse political power to sue, defame and intimidate pro-life individuals and organizations, violating their rights of conscience as he did in California.
It is often said that America is closer to a civil war now than at any time since 1865, and the twin occurrence of summer riots and the Jan. 6 Capitol maelstrom prove this is not as fanciful a notion as we’d hope. Now is not the time to appoint Edmund Ruffin, or conversely, William Lloyd Garrison, to the cabinet.
If President Biden truly believes politics should avoid fanning the flames of hatred, he should heed the counsel of the eleven Republican Senators and more than sixty congressmen who implored him to withdraw Becerra’s nomination immediately.
Nathan Richendollar is a summa cum laude economics and politics graduate of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. He lives in Southwest Missouri with his wife Bethany and works in the financial sector.