Trump appointee sues Biden admin after attempted firing from independent federal agency
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 8, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Trump appointee Roger Severino sued the Biden administration on Thursday after his attempted removal from a non-partisan post “on behalf of President Biden.”
Severino had served as the head of the Civil Rights Office (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from March 2017 until last month. In August 2020, President Donald Trump appointed Severino to the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), an independent federal agency, reappointing him in January.
During his nearly three-year tenure at OCR, Severino notably fought for pro-life and religious freedom protections, suing a Vermont hospital when a nurse said it had forced her to participate in an abortion against her faith. Under his leadership, OCR launched the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division to institutionalize enforcement of anti-discrimination protections for religious Americans in 2018.
According to his lawsuit, Severino received an e-mail last Wednesday from Gautam Raghavan, deputy director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, demanding his immediate resignation from ACUS.
“I am writing on behalf of President Biden to request your resignation from the Administrative Conference of the United States Council by 5:00 p.m. ET tomorrow, Wednesday, February 3. If you do not resign by that time, your appointment to the Council will be terminated,” it reads.
“The statute governing ACUS provides that Mr. Severino’s term on the Council lasts for three years, and the statute makes no provision or allowance for at-will Presidential removal,” states Severino’s lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of for the District of Columbia.
“President Biden’s attempt to remove me contrary to law exposes his lofty promises of healing and uniting all Americans as nothing more than cynical manipulation,” Severino said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews.
“I have been an active and valued member of the ACUS Council since my initial appointment and there is absolutely no cause for this attempted removal,” he continued, adding that “no reason has been given by President Biden or his staff despite my asking for a justification.”
“Notably, the Trump Administration did not terminate any Obama-era ACUS appointees before their terms expired, and I believe this is the first time in ACUS history that a President has attempted such a move,” Severino said.
Now a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), Severino will lead the EPPC’s “HHS Accountability Project,” monitoring the Biden administration “for actions that threaten quality healthcare and civil rights for all Americans, from conception to natural death,” the EPPC announced last week.
Correction 02-08-2021 22:27 EST: A previous edition of this article incorrectly stated that Severino had been fired; in fact, he still holds his position at the ACUS. LifeSite regrets the error.