President Trump held a press conference with religious leaders back in May in which he said: “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore.” But three months later, lawyers for the Justice Department are delaying or undercutting what Trump had promised.
“We’re now at the end of August, and DOJ’s actions in court are still not following through on the President’s promises from the Rose Garden in May, or the campaign trail last year,” said Montse Alvarado, the executive director of the Becket Fund, a religious liberty law firm that has participated in both cases on behalf of religious groups seeking to protect their liberties from government infringement.
At issue are two legal provisions: the Johnson Amendment that prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from engaging in direct political activities; and the ObamaCare mandate requiring employers to provide health plans that covered the costs of birth control.
Justice officials defend the legal briefs.
Neither the contraception mandate nor the Johnson Amendment is being enforced, they say, but the government is still required to defend them from legal challenges.
“While the president isn’t enforcing either of these provisions, the department still must defend laws that have not been repealed by Congress or found to be unconstitutional,” said an official, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press.