BLOGThe Weekly Digest: 2-15-17

By James Arnold Posted on: | February 15, 2017
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On to the news.


A Valuable Reminder: Executive Orders and Presidents Do Not Fix All Problems


The following analogy comes from ADF Legal Counsel James Gottry:

"If you hand a five-pound bag of beans to a 4-year-old and leave the room for 10 minutes… the ensuing mess will take some time to clean up, even if you take back the bag when you return."

What does he mean by that? Well, let's take a look.

Here's Gottry's introduction to the topic at hand:

"Yes, it is rumored that President Trump may follow through in some form or fashion with his promise to give attention to the 'critical issue of religious freedom,' by signing an executive order that directs federal agencies to respect federal statutes and Supreme Court decisions that protect the free exercise of religion. He has also demonstrated an early willingness for his administration to be 'advocates for the unborn and their mothers,' by signing an order blocking foreign aid or federal funding for NGOs that provide or promote abortion.

"But no president can unwind years of a federal bureaucracy’s overreach in a day. No president can — nor should be able to — control the actions of state and local governments. And no president can alone set freedom’s future on a proper course by eliminating restrictive speech codes and hostility toward faith and conscience found on university campuses."

No matter what you think about the rumored executive order or President Trump, the point is that no single administration or office can solve problems that have been going on for a long time.

Gottry points to two major examples, but we'll just look at one here: Planned Parenthood:

"Despite documented instances of waste, abuse, and potential fraud, Planned Parenthood continues to receive millions from the federal government and various states. There is reason for hope that Congress and the Trump administration may work together to end the government’s longstanding practice of providing funding to the nation’s most profitable abortionist. Any such efforts, however, are sure to be met with intense resistance. Moreover, if President Trump puts an end to federal funding — and until he does, continued advocacy is of vital importance — the battleground will shift to funding at the state level, where even greater resources and strategic coordination may be necessary to succeed. Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has gone on record saying that the abortion giant 'will never back down and … will never stop fighting.'"

That is a lot of beans to pick up, to follow the analogy. It will take time, no matter who is in office. Gottry also provides background on expressive business owners who are facing "fines, jail time, and/or the loss of their businesses for seeking to live and work peacefully in accordance with their faith." Many of these individuals are facing state or local laws, not federal ones, and so the Trump administration has little it can (or should) do. The bag of beans has been spilled far and wide.

But we ought not be without hope. The Trump administration provides some opportunities, which we would be foolish to squander. But we must not place our hope wholly in the work of any one office; we must be vigilant, motivated, and active on all fronts.

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James Arnold

Legal Content Manager

James Arnold manages and edits the Alliance Alert, a daily repository of news in all forms—written, spoken, or in video format.

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