Eugene Delgaudio on U.S. Attorneys Are Ignoring Trump’s Orders to Prioritize Protecting Religious Liberty

U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to sign the Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty during the National Day of Prayer event at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington D.C., U.S., May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Repeatedly, during his campaign for President in 2016, President Trump promised to protect religious freedom, gaining broad support from both the evangelical community and conservative Catholics in the process.  And repeatedly, during his presidency, President Trump has taken actions showing that he takes that promise seriously.   In the last few weeks, liberals were demanding that the President make climate change the focus of U.N. meetings in New York, but President Trump chose instead to make religious liberty his focus at the September 2019 meetings.

Seventeen months ago, we at Public Advocate decided to check into whether the perpetual bureaucracy — aka the Swamp — was implementing — or ignoring — President Trump’s religious liberty reforms.  Here is what we found.

Shortly after taking office, President Trump issued Executive Order 13798 (May 4, 2017), which was titled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.”  Its purpose was “to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.”

As with many such Presidential directives, implementation was delegated to subordinates.  Here, the Attorney General was instructed to issue guidance implementing the President’s order.  After working on the issue for many months, then-Attorney General Sessions issued a memorandum on October 6, 2017, laying out 20 “Principles of Religious Liberty.”  The memorandum was accompanied by a thoughtful analysis of “key constitutional and federal protections for religious liberties.”

The same day, Sessions sent a memorandum to all 94 United States Attorneys Offices, ordering each office to take a number of steps to implement the religious liberty principles outlined in his memo.

One of those steps was the issuance of an order that each of the 94 U.S. Attorneys offices designate a “religious liberty point of contact” to lead the office’s efforts to protect religious liberty.  As the DOJ explained, “religious liberty is an inalienable right protected by the Constitution, and defending it is one of the most important things we do at the Department of Justice.”  Thus, “a religious liberty point of contact will ensure that the Attorney General’s Memorandum is effectively implemented.”

Why is it critical that a specific person in each office be given responsibility for protecting religious liberty?  Because if everyone in any given U.S. Attorney’s office is responsible — then no one is responsible.  And if no one is responsible, no one is accountable.  And if no one is accountable, nothing changes, nothing gets done, and the President’s new policy languishes — just another piece of paper in the file.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Eugene Delgaudio