January 20th marked Donald Trump’s one-year anniversary since being sworn in as President of the United States. The year has been filled with overwhelmingly negative news coverage of the president, meaning many of the administration’s good policy decisions have gone largely unnoticed.
In the past year, the federal government has taken many positive steps toward protecting religious liberty, respecting the sanctity of life, and preserving freedom of speech – rights that Alliance Defending Freedom is committed to upholding. Let’s take a look at some of the ways the Trump Administration has honored these freedoms in its first year.
Executive Order on Religious Freedom
Early in his presidency, President Trump issued an executive order on religious freedom to uphold his campaign promise to preserve and protect religious liberty. While the original order in May left a lot of ambiguity for federal officials, the U.S. Department of Justice issued further guidance to federal agencies protecting the rights of all citizens to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of government punishment.
Nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
When the U.S. Supreme Court lost one of its great constitutional defenders with the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump promised to fill the spot with a justice that would follow in Justice Scalia’s footsteps. He sought to deliver on that promise with the nomination and confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justice Gorsuch’s track record is solid on religious liberty, as evidenced by his concurring opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, and since his confirmation, by joining the majority in Trinity Lutheran.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop oral arguments, Justice Gorsuch was very engaged in asking tough questions of the attorneys on both sides of the case. He will also be on the bench when ADF represents National Institute of Family and Life Advocates in its fight against compelled speech in California.
Reinstating the Mexico City Policy
Should American tax dollars be used to fund abortions internationally? The Mexico City policy answers that question with a resounding “No.” Since it was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1984, the policy has been on-again-off-again in the United States depending on who is in the Oval Office. Both Presidents Bush upheld the policy while Presidents Clinton and Obama revoked it during their time in office.
Donald Trump, when running for president, said in a press release: “I am and will remain pro-life. Public funding of abortion providers is an insult to people of faith at the least, and is an affront to good government and governance, at best. I will work to support the dignity of human life from conception to natural, dignified death.”
We hope to soon see the same common sense in our own country with the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Reversing Obama’s School Locker Room Policy
President Obama had a reputation for exceeding his lawful authority, but arguably no example is more egregious than his unlawful attempt to rewrite Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In doing this, Obama stripped away the decision-making power of local school districts, forcing school officials to open private facilities to students who profess a gender identity that differs from their sex.
President Trump rescinded this unconstitutional policy and put the power back in the hands of school district officials, enabling them to protect the privacy and dignity of the students in their schools.
HHS Exemptions for Pro-Life Beliefs
Another Obama-era policy that threatened the rights of pro-life organizations is the mandate that employers must provide all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that cause early abortions. If that policy was violated, these employers would face crippling fines from the IRS. Several pro-life organizations objected to the mandate and took their fight to the courts.
In October of last year, the Trump Administration eased the HHS regulations. Now, organizations that hold sincere religious or moral objections to providing contraceptives or abortifacients are no longer required to do so. ADF is currently negotiating with the Department of Justice regarding the resolution of pending lawsuits. While several ADF clients are waiting to see if their freedom of conscience will be upheld, this new rule makes a favorable decision a lot more likely.
Addressing the March for Life
A day short of the one-year anniversary of his presidency, Donald Trump addressed the crowd at the 2018 March for Life in a video message, making him the first sitting U.S. President to do so. ADF was honored to join the president and thousands more in exercising the freedom to express pro-life beliefs at this year’s March for Life.
In his Religious Freedom Day proclamation, the president said, “No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.” We hope that the Trump Administration continues to protect the freedom of people like Jack Phillips and groups like Little Sisters of the Poor to exercise their faith without fear of government punishment.
And while it is vital that the federal government upholds these freedoms, opponents of religious liberty don’t show any signs of slowing down. ADF depends on your continued support to battle for these freedoms, so we ask you to find out how you can be involved.
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Earlier this week, Senator Lindsay Graham introduced Senate Resolution 407, legislation that celebrates religious schools and their contributions to our country by designating the first week of October as “Religious Education Week.”
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