3 Major Decisions the Supreme Court Could Issue Very Soon

June 16, 2023
Three Supreme Court Cases | First Liberty Institute

by Jorge Gomez • 7 min read

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to finish its term by the end of June. With only a couple weeks left, there are three major First Amendment cases pending—including two from First Liberty. Here’s a glance at how the outcomes could impact religious freedom for millions of Americans.

Gerald Groff: The Faithful Carrier

We’re waiting on the Court to rule on our Faithful Carrier case involving Gerald Groff, who lost his job at the post office because of his religious beliefs.

We argued the case at the nation’s highest court in April. Led by our volunteer attorney Aaron Streett of the law firm Baker Botts, we made the case that Americans should not be forced to choose between their faith and their livelihood.

We also asked the Court to reverse a lower court ruling that held the postal service is not required to grant a religious accommodation for Gerald to observe the Lord’s Day. Our argument also asks the Court to reexamine a case from the 1970s (TWA v. Hardison) that watered down the protections Congress provided for religious employees. That ruling tipped the balance in favor of corporations and the government over the rights of employees. It set a de minimis cost standard, giving employers the upper hand to deny religious accommodation requests by citing trivial business inconveniences.

As we wait for the ruling, many Americans are asking whether Gerald will win and how this could impact religious freedom. It’s impossible to predict exactly how the Court will rule. But after oral argument, people of faith should be optimistic.

When we presented the case, several justices appeared to be willing to revisit Hardison, suggesting the current standard is disproportionately preferential to employers. Legal experts and a vast number of media outlets picked up that theme. Many seem to agree this is not so much whether the Court will rule favorably for religious freedom, but how far it will raise the standard.

There’s a lot at stake with this case. The outcome could not only vindicate Gerald’s rights under the law, but it could also impact countless religious employees across the country. A win for him would be a win that safeguards your rights—and the rights of your children and grandchildren.

Please continue praying for Gerald, our legal team and the Supreme Court justices while we wait for the decision. Victory is never guaranteed, but people of faith should have hope. The justices have an incredible opportunity to clarify the law and ensure religious people are not forced to choose between their faith and their job.

The Search for Sweet Justice: Aaron and Melissa Klein

We’re waiting for the Supreme Court’s response in our Sweet Cakes by Melissa case involving Christian cake artists Aaron and Melissa Klein. The state of Oregon punished them because they declined to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. Doing so would have forced them to convey a message in violation of their religious beliefs. The state imposed a harsh and crippling financial penalty and even said they should be “rehabilitated.” They were forced to close their bakery, all for simply wanting to operate in a manner consistent with their religious convictions.

A few years ago, First Liberty took their case to the Supreme Court. At that time, the Supreme Court vacated lower court decisions and sent it back to Oregon officials and courts with a clear message: Aaron and Melissa Klein are “entitled to the neutral and respectful consideration” of their claims. The Court also said they deserve the same protection from religious discrimination afforded to cake artist Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado.

It took years, but Aaron and Melissa’s case worked its way again through the state courts. It is now pending at the nation’s highest court for the second time. They have not agreed to hear the case, but neither have they turned it away. It’s possible they are holding it until they release an opinion in another First Amendment case that’s pending, which we’ll talk about below.

Please be in prayer as we wait. A favorable outcome could bring relief to countless Americans in the marketplace facing hostile treatment and the real threat of losing their business or their livelihood because of their beliefs. Make no mistake. This could impact the fundamental freedom to work and create in accordance with your religious beliefs.

303 Creative: The Right to Create Without Violating Your Religious Beliefs

The Supreme Court will soon issue a decision in 303 Creative v. Elenis. The case involves Lorie Smith, a Christian web designer from the Denver area who declines to create websites for same-sex weddings because of her religious beliefs. Our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom represent her. It’s a free speech case that could have implications for religious freedom.

The issue presented is similar to our Sweet Cakes by Melissa case. In fact, First Liberty filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of our clients Aaron and Melissa Klein supporting the web designer. Our brief explained that it’s unconstitutional for the government to force artists to create art and convey messages that violate their deepest convictions.

We’re hopeful the Supreme Court will issue a decision protecting free speech and religious freedom. A favorable ruling in 303 Creative could also be positive for Aaron and Melissa, who’ve been searching for sweet justice for 10 years. Like our Sweet Cakes by Melissa case, this is a crucial First Amendment case impacting countless religious Americans who are being forced to choose between violating their beliefs or losing their business.

Please Keep Praying!

We want to thank you for standing strong with First Liberty and our clients. Your encouragement and support for everyday American heroes like Gerald, Aaron and Melissa makes a tremendous difference. Thanks to YOU, we continue fighting these cases and bringing them to the highest level.

Stay tuned for the Supreme Court’s decisions—and please continue praying so the justices will issue a ruling that protects religious freedom in each of these three major cases.

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