by Richard A. Epstein
July 28, 2014
The President’s recent executive order represents a dangerous expansion of government power. The order prohibits all government contractors from discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender employees. Any firm that wants to do business with the United States government – and only those firms – must abide by the President’s mandate; the Obama administration cannot impose the mandate by regulation on all businesses generally. This raises a key normative question: should the government be able to impose by contract mandates on businesses that it could not impose on them by legislative action? There is a better alternative – one that reveals the proper place of the principle of neutrality in dealing with explosive issues. The government should not take sides in these debates. Any individual, regardless of orientation should be eligible to apply for any government position. For the President to unilaterally impose his party’s consensus sets a dangerous precedent.