President Trump’s new order on religious liberty signed Thursday is so toothless that not even the American Civil Liberties Union, which was waiting in the wings to sue over it as they have with other executive moves on immigration, is willing to take it to court.
Calling the measure “an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome” the left-leaning legal non-profit rescinded its previous threats due to the fact that the EO doesn’t really do much of anything to substantively protect religious freedom.
We thought we'd have to sue Trump today. But it turned out the order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.
— ACLU National (@ACLU) May 4, 2017
The news came hours after the measure, which does very little to effectively protect and restore America’s first freedom, was signed by President Trump, who was surrounded by religious leaders.
As Conservative Review pointed out earlier in the day, the ACLU has a point, as the long-anticipated move merely left it to administration officials to provide “regulatory relief” to those affected by Obamacare’s more onerous mandates and not act discriminatorily to religious nonprofits.
Some First Amendment advocates panned the move as a “wasted opportunity” and argued it actually harms the cause for religious liberty. Others said it was merely a starting point with more to be done. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: without any of the substantive conscience protections and rollbacks of Obama-era policies like the ones in the original draft, this particular order falls well short of the multiple promises that President Trump made on the campaign trail to defend conscience rights for all Americans.
For all the scare quoting that goes on when liberal outlets and pundits discuss conscience rights in the United States, today’s order actually has earned its scare quotes.