Texas Court Blocks Biden’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Enforcement

 Texas Court Blocks Biden’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Enforcement

J. Scott Applewhite / AP file

A Texas federal court has made a significant ruling against the Biden administration’s enforcement of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), a piece of legislation designed to safeguard pregnant workers by mandating reasonable accommodations for them. This decision, announced by The Federalist, emerged from the court’s interpretation that the PWFA’s passage violated the U.S. Constitution’s quorum clause, necessitating a majority presence in each house for legislative business.

The court’s decision, delivered by U.S. District Judge James Hendrix, represents a triumph for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton had initiated a legal challenge against the administration in January, disputing the spending bill’s constitutionality that included the PWFA. He contended that the bill’s enactment through a voice vote in the House of Representatives on December 21, 2022, was unconstitutional due to insufficient member presence, thereby breaching the quorum requirement.

Paxton further criticized the PWFA for imposing undue obligations on Texas employers, particularly small businesses, labeling it an unfunded mandate that infringes upon the Tenth Amendment. This amendment preserves state powers not specifically delegated to the federal government.

In defense, the Biden administration argued that the quorum clause was fulfilled through a recorded vote on the same day before the voice vote. They also maintained that the PWFA was a legitimate measure under Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce and enforce the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause, aimed at preventing sex-based discrimination.

However, Judge Hendrix sided with Paxton, ruling that the lack of a majority during the voice vote invalidated the spending bill’s passage, including the PWFA. He emphasized the quorum clause as a critical component of the constitutional checks and balances, not to be overlooked by House rules or practices.

Hendrix’s ruling, which solely invalidated the PWFA without affecting the broader spending bill, suggested that rectification lies in Congress’s re-passage of the bill with a quorum or Supreme Court intervention. This decision, expected to be appealed by the Biden administration, holds significant implications for the validity of other laws passed by voice votes and the rights of pregnant workers nationwide.

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