The White House cannot extend discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ people and force doctors to perform gender reassignment surgeries against their will, a federal judge in Texas has ruled.
In 2021, the Biden administration extended Affordable Care Act anti-discrimination protections to transgender people, deciding that doctors who object to performing gender reassignment procedures would be in violation of the healthcare law.
In a 26-page decision filed late last week, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which banned workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity and and sexual orientation, does not apply to Obamacare.
In his decision, Kacsmaryk stated that Congress could have included “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in the text of the healthcare bill but chose not to do so.
”Congress limited Section 1557’s protections to those afforded by other federal statutes – including Title IX. Because Title IX does not protect ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ status, neither does Section 1557,” he wrote, the New York Post reported.
The judge ruled that the meaning “remains intact until changed by Congress, or perhaps the Supreme Court,” suggesting that the Biden administration's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cannot unilaterally change the law.
In 2021, the HHS moved to alter its interpretation of the Bostock ruling to alter “on the basis of sex” (which refers to males and females) to also include sexual orientation and gender identity, said the judge.
The shifting interpretation prompted a class action lawsuit by two Texas-based doctors represented by the America First Legal Foundation, arguing that the HHS misinterpreted the Bostock ruling.
In his decision, Kacsmaryk said courts interpreted Title IX as prohibiting “federally funded education programs from treating men better than women (or vice versa).”
“As written and commonly construed, Title IX operates in binary terms – male and female – when it references ‘on the basis of sex,’” stated the judge. “Title IX’s prohibition against discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’ cannot be reduced to a literalist but-for test.”