From THE HILL:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the Department of Justice is creating a “religious liberty task force.”
Sessions said the task force, co-chaired by Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, Beth Williams, will help the department fully implement the religious liberty guidance it issued last year.
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The guidance was a byproduct of President Trump’s executive order directing agencies to respect and protect religious liberty and political speech.
Sessions said the cultural climate in this country — and in the West more generally — has become less hospitable to people of faith in recent years, and as a result many Americans have felt their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.
“We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives. We’ve seen U.S. senators ask judicial and executive branch nominees about dogma—even though the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for public office. We’ve all seen the ordeal faced so bravely by Jack Phillips,” he said, referring to the Colorado baker who took his case to the Supreme Court after he was found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Sessions said the guidance he issued in October lays out 20 fundamental principles for the executive branch to follow, including the principles that free exercise means a right to act — or to abstain from action — and that government shouldn’t impugn people’s motives or beliefs.
From The DAILY BEAST:
He declared war on anything that could be perceived to trespass on the “religious freedom” or “religious liberty” of Christians—which is loosely defined enough to be construed as trespassing on pretty much anything he and his allies choose it to mean.
Sessions said this was because there was a “dangerous movement” to erode the Christian right to worship.
There isn’t, of course; it’s an invented bogeyman for a ravenously-pursued ideological crusade. Women, religious minorities, LGBT people: Prepare to fight for your bodies, your rights to worship, your wedding cakes.
Let’s take a slightly closer look at the aforementioned Jesse Panuccio. He looks like a real douchebag, because he is a real douchebag, and he worked as general counsel to Rick Scott, governor of Floriduhhh and a real fucking douchebag. From POLITICO (2/12/2018):
PANUCCIO OR PINOCCHIO? — Who’s the new No. 3 at the U.S. Department of Justice, Jesse Panuccio? He quit as acting Department of Economic Opportunity secretary in Tallahassee in late 2015 when he wasn’t going to get confirmed by the state Senate. Panuccio’s agency had botched the rollout of a new unemployment system. And he earned a reputation of being dishonest. “I never trusted any information he gave me,” Republican state Sen. Nancy Detert once told us. His forthrightness came into question after a scathing state audit conflicted with Panuccio’s assurances that all was well at DEO.
ENEMIES IN D.C. — Now, in Washington, Florida Republicans tell us Panuccio is doing little to endear himself there with Republicans. Some in [douchebag] Sen. Marco Rubio’s orbit fault Panuccio at DOJ for working behind the scenes to scuttle the senator’s picks to become the new U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. They say Panuccio favored fellow Ivy Leaguer Roy Altman for the post. All three federal prosecutor positions are unfilled here as a result. Some suspect the former Miami resident wants the prosecutor job himself, “but there’s no way Marco will sign off on that. … Jesse’s all about Jesse.” Said another Florida Republican insider: “Panuccio had his issues in Tallahassee and now he’s having his issues in Washington as well.” Another Capitol Hill Republican with close ties to the White House called Panuccio “unhelpful … I stopped dealing with the guy.”