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First Liberty Says Court Ruling Against Marine is “Shameful,” Announces They Will Appeal to Supreme Court

August 10, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) issued an opinion in the case of United States v. Sterling, denying a United States Marine her constitutional right to religious freedom.

“This is absolutely outrageous,” Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says. “A few judges decided they could strip a Marine of her constitutional rights just because they didn’t think her beliefs were important enough to be protected. If they can court-martial a Marine over a Bible verse, what’s to stop them from punishing service members for reading the Bible, talking about their faith, or praying?”

“General Patton famously prayed on the eve of battle,” Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, says. “According to the majority opinion, if General Patton couldn’t prove how important praying was to him, he could be court-martialed for his prayer.”

“This is shameful, it’s wrong, and it sets a terrible precedent, jeopardizing the constitutional rights of every single man and woman in military service,” Shackelford says. “We will appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. This cannot be allowed to stand.”

First Liberty Institute, along with former solicitor general of the United States, Paul Clement, of Bancroft PLLC, represented LCpl Sterling at an April hearing before the CAAF. LCpl Sterling was court-martialed for refusing to take a Bible verse down from her workspace.

Read more and view legal documents at

About First Liberty Institute 

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

To arrange an interview, contact Kassie Dulin, Director of Legal Communications for First Liberty Institute. Email:, Direct: 972-941-9575, Cell: 214-542-4334.  

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