ACLU says it isn't suing over Trump's religious liberty order because the order doesn't actually do anything

Donald Trump with religious leaders at the White House on ThursdayMark Wilson/Getty ImagesDonald Trump with religious leaders at the White House on Thursday

The American Civil Liberties Union announced it no longer plans to sue over President Donald Trump’s religious liberty order signed on Thursday, just hours after promising it would take legal action.

Why the reversal? According to ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero, the White House directive doesn’t actually do anything.

“Today’s executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome,” Romero said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

Civil-rights groups opposed the executive order, which weakens regulations that prevent churches from engaging in political activity.

Critics were bracing for the worst after a leaked version of the bill from January appeared to allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees, among other sweeping provisions.

But the copy Trump signed on Thursday was much narrower in scope, with language so vague that some conservatives wondered if the order would have any effect at all.

The ACLU seemed to arrive at the same conclusion:

“After careful review of the order’s text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process,” the statement said.

“The ACLU stands ready to sue the Trump administration and in the event that this order triggers any official government action at all, we will see Trump in court, again.”

It was a complete 180 for the ACLU, which vowed to take legal action against Trump in its original statement.

At least one group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, did follow through with its threat to sue, filing a lawsuit in a Wisconsin federal court on Thursday.

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