About First Liberty | First Liberty

About First Liberty

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious liberty for all Americans.

We believe that in today’s diverse, pluralistic society, the government must protect the constitutional rights of its citizens in order for us all to coexist peacefully — even when we disagree. And the true cornerstone of that belief means recognizing and defending the fundamental right of every individual – of any faith – to follow their conscience and to live according to their religious beliefs.

As our Founding Fathers declared, religious liberty is our first and most foundational right, It serves as the catalyst of all subsequent freedoms. When religious liberty is threatened or attacked, every other freedom is endangered. And once our First Freedom is lost, it will be gone forever.

That’s why we are First In the Fight when it comes to defending and protecting our country’s most cherished and profound freedom: religious liberty.


Originally called Liberty Legal Institute, the organization was founded in 1972 as a division of Free Market Foundation. In 1997, Kelly Shackelford formed Liberty Institute as a nonprofit law firm specializing in religious liberty cases primarily litigated in Texas.

In 2009, Liberty Legal officially became Liberty Institute, quickly gaining renown as the premiere legal organization defending religious liberty beyond our Texas borders. In 2012, Liberty Institute expanded to become a nationwide organization, expanding litigation to all 50 states.

In 2016, the organization’s name changed to First Liberty Institute and now handles hundreds of religious liberty case each year through a growing network of elite, volunteer attorneys.

Today, as the largest legal organization exclusively dedicated to defending religious liberty, First Liberty Institute continues to lead the fight for religious liberty across every state and every generation of Americans…


As a nonprofit organization, First Liberty fights for people of all faiths whose religious liberty has been threatened or whose First Amendment rights have been violated.

Even better, we do it for free.

Our attorneys litigate, argue, and win cases at all judicial levels, providing superior legal defense for individuals and religious organizations that are targeted because of their religious beliefs.  From local school districts to the United States Supreme Court, First Liberty attorneys have intervened and emerged victorious in some of the most important religious freedom cases in modern times. Our success inside and outside the courtroom ensures that Americans can continue to freely and openly practice their faith as outlined by the First Amendment.

Additionally, our attorneys frequently defend religious freedom in national media, including appearing in outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, FOX News, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and more.

Meet First Liberty’s expert legal and leadership team.

Learn more about our cases.

Stay up to date on the latest religious liberty news through our exclusive content.


First Liberty Institute has a 90% victory rate across all legal matters it handles.

Our success is due to a comprehensive legal strategy combined with a unique model of representation. First Liberty’s seasoned team of expert staff attorneys focuses exclusively on religious freedom. They have years of experience in various fields of law including constitutional law, First Amendment law, religious freedom law, military law, corporate law, and more. They are proficient and proven litigators with victories at the highest federal courts.

We maximize our in-house expertise by coordinating with an exclusive network of volunteer attorneys representing the top law firms in the United States. These elite “local” attorneys not only know the nuances of their communities, but also are deeply familiar with the judges and the unique practice of law in their city, county, and state.

Our network attorneys offer their legal services pro bono and help give First Liberty a decisive edge.

Learn more about our success strategy.


First Liberty works on a national level, securing religious freedom in four critical areas:

Learn more about our areas of expertise.


First Liberty offers premiere resources to educate Americans about the importance of religious liberty. Our books, publications, and native content give people of faith the tools and information necessary to protect and advance America’s first and most fundamental freedom:

Access and download First Liberty’s resources.


If you share our passion to protect religious liberty for all, there are many ways for you to partner with First Liberty and become a defender of religious liberty. We urge you to get involved today!

Visit our Take Action page.

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