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The signing of the document would come one day before the National Day of Prayer, which is happening this Thursday.
Religious exemption laws are generally geared toward providing businesses a means to discriminate against members of the LGBT community. But the executive order, if vague enough, could even allow businesses to discriminate more individuals, including women and minorities, so long as it’s under the guise of a religious belief — a definition so broad it could mean literally anything.
The Human Rights Campaign tweeted out their opposition to the order, suggesting the order could face legal scrutiny if signed by Trump tomorrow. Two of Trump’s previous executive orders banning Muslims from entering the United States were similarly challenged, and it’s entirely likely this order could face a similar fate.
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A previous executive order similar in scope was drafted in February but was leaked to the Nation magazine, and would have raised “serious First Amendment questions, as well, because [protections for businesses] would go far beyond what the Supreme Court has identified as the limits of permissive religious accommodations,” according to Professor Marty Lederman at Georgetown University.
That order was tabled after it was leaked. It isn’t yet clear if the new order, rumoured to be signed on Wednesday, would go beyond the scope of what’s commonly protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The executive order, if signed, would be a major victory for Vice President Mike Pence in particular. While governor of Indiana, Pence signed a similar bill into law that granted businesses extensive leeway in discriminating customers based off of their religious beliefs. That law led to a huge backlash, and Pence was forced to sign an amendment that watered down the law, though some organisations still found problems with the compromise bill.
Many organisations have come out against these types of laws, and the ACLU states on their website that religious freedom in America “does not give us the right to use our religion to discriminate against and impose those beliefs on others who do not share them.”