Roger Severino

Senior Fellow

Roger Severino is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directs EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project. Mr. Severino is a national authority on civil rights, conscience and religious freedom, the administrative state, and information privacy, particularly as applied to health care law and policy. He is a regular contributor to National Review Online and tweets at @RogerSeverino_.

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Roger Severino is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directs EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project. Mr. Severino is a national authority on civil rights, conscience and religious freedom, the administrative state, and information privacy, particularly as applied to health care law and policy. He is a regular contributor to National Review Online and tweets at @RogerSeverino_.

Before joining EPPC, Mr. Severino was the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OCR), where he led a team of over 250 staff enforcing our nation’s civil rights, conscience and religious freedom, and health information privacy laws. He served from 2017 to 2021 and was the longest serving OCR Director of the past three decades.

Prior to joining HHS, Mr. Severino served for two years as Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, advocating for life, family, and religious-freedom policies. Before that, he was a trial attorney for seven years at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division where he enforced the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Mr. Severino started his legal career at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, where he was Legal Counsel and Chief Operations Officer and defended the rights of people of all faiths under federal and international law.

Mr. Severino has been profiled in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and The Hill and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS, among others. In 2020 The New York Times dubbed him and his wife Carrie, “a conservative power couple” to be reckoned with.

Mr. Severino holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in public policy, with highest distinction, from Carnegie Mellon University, and a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Southern California. He was appointed by President Trump to the Administrative Conference of the United States and is a member of the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia bars.

As OCR Director, Mr. Severino founded the federal government’s first Division dedicated exclusively to conscience and religious freedom compliance and enforcement. He enforced the Weldon Amendment for the first time against a state (California) after it coerced families and religious organizations into paying for abortion insurance coverage, leading to a $200 million federal funding disallowance. He also enforced laws protecting pro-life pregnancy resource centers from discrimination by states hostile to their message and enforced laws prohibiting forced participation in abortions by medical professionals.

With respect to civil rights, Mr. Severino protected older persons and people with disabilities from being denied life-saving care due to discriminatory “quality of life” judgments, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also achieved a landmark sexual harassment resolution with Michigan State University in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal and protected the rights of non-English speakers to have equal access to health and human services.

In the area of health privacy, he secured the largest HIPAA monetary settlement in history and achieved the largest number of enforcement resolutions both in a single year and across four years. He also facilitated the transformational use of Skype, Zoom, and Facetime for delivery of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

His regulatory reform activities resulted in a comprehensive conscience protection regulation and proposed a life-affirming disability rights regulation. He achieved regulatory savings of $3.6 billion in health care industry costs over five years and identified and proposed an additional $3.2 billion in cost savings from the repeal of ineffective and unnecessary regulatory burdens.

Mr. Severino is a Spanish speaker who teaches salsa and west coast swing in his spare time.

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EPPC Scholars Submit Public Comment Opposing OSHA’s Unlawful Vaccine Mandate

Roger Severino

EPPC scholars Roger Severino, Rachel N. Morrison, Dr. David Gortler, and Dr. Aaron Kheriaty submitted a public comment opposing finalization of OSHA’s rule that would mandate COVID-19 vaccination in workplaces.

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Publications / January 20, 2022

EPPC Scholars Submit Public Comment Opposing Proposal to Eliminate Protections for Faith-Based Contractors

Roger Severino

EPPC scholars Roger Severino and Rachel N. Morrison submitted a public comment opposing a proposal by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to rescind various protections for faith-based contractors that allow them to partner with the federal government and serve the American people without having to abandon tenets of their faith or their religious identity.

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Publications / December 10, 2021

EPPC Scholar Letter on “Grave Religious Liberty and Fairness Interests at Stake” in Bill to…

Roger Severino

EPPC Senior Fellow Roger Severino submitted a letter for the official record at the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee of House Committee on Education and Labor, for its hearing “A Call to Action: Modernizing the Community Services Block Grant.” The letter addresses the “grave religious liberty and fairness interests at stake” in a proposal to reauthorize the CSBG program.

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In OSHA We Trust?

Roger Severino

The administration is exploiting a little-used OSHA ‘emergency’ standard to do its dirty work of coercing millions of Americans to get vaxxed.

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National Review Online / October 28, 2021

EPPC Scholars Meet with Federal Officials to Discuss Concerns Over OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Rule

Rachel N. Morrison

EPPC Policy Analyst Rachel N. Morrison and EPPC Senior Fellow Roger Severino met with federal government officials to discuss concerns over OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard Rulemaking.

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Biden and Becerra Are Making You Fund Abortion, Inc. (Again)

Roger Severino

President Biden and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra displayed their abortion extremism yet again this Monday when the administration repealed a Trump-era regulation governing the federal family-planning grant program known as Title X.

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National Review / October 7, 2021

Who Has Been Politicizing the HHS Office for Civil Rights?

Roger Severino

Under HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and under the day-to-day direction of a political appointee, the HHS Office for Civil Rights has lost its way and is being politicized beyond all recognition.

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National Review Online / September 18, 2021

DOJ Swings Back at Texas, and Whiffs

Roger Severino

The Department of Justice’s lawsuit challenging the Texas Heartbeat Act is so riddled with holes that it will likely lose at the Supreme Court just as Planned Parenthood’s suit did.

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Newsweek / September 16, 2021

Texas’s Absolutely Genius Victory for Life

Roger Severino

The genius of the Texas Heartbeat Act was applying existing legal concepts and frameworks to neutralize the abortion industry’s most potent weapon, the pre-enforcement challenge.

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National Review Online / September 3, 2021

Becerra and Biden Betray Medical Professionals Being Forced to Assist in Abortions

Roger Severino

We now know, if there was ever any doubt, that Biden and Becerra’s first loyalty is not to their proclaimed Catholic faith or to the law, but to abortion, abortion, and more abortion.

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National Review Online / August 3, 2021

How Biden’s COVID-Testing Mandate Violates Civil Rights

Roger Severino

President Biden announced that all federal workers who do not get vaccinated for COVID-19 will face a series of burdens and intrusions designed to raise the costs of not submitting to the shot(s). This is a threat to civil liberties that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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National Review Online / July 31, 2021

Why Unanimity Was So Important in the Fulton Case

Roger Severino

With its 9-0 ruling in favor of the Fulton plaintiffs, the Supreme Court is saying people with sincere faith-informed understandings of social issues that cut against the grain of secularist thought aren’t to be treated as bigots, and government needs to back off.

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National Review Online / June 18, 2021