by Jeff Mateer • 4 min read
It is my privilege and honor to lead our amazing legal team. The biggest question this year was how can we come close to topping the success of 2022. Through God’s grace, we did! In 2023, First Liberty again secured two major U.S. Supreme Court victories.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court granted victory to our Faithful Carrier Gerald Groff, who lost his job at the U.S. Postal Service for observing the Sunday Sabbath. This landmark decision strengthens legal protections for all employees seeking religious accommodations. The Court overturned a 1977 decision that curtailed religious freedom in the workplace and held that federal law requires employers to accommodate religious employees unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense.
We won our second Supreme Court victory on behalf of Christian bakers Aaron & Melissa Klein. The Court once again vacated a lower court’s decision that ratified the State of Oregon’s decade-long effort to force the Kleins out of business by penalizing them for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The Supreme Court returned the case to the Oregon courts to reconsider in light of the Court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis.
We also secured many significant victories at all court levels that advanced religious liberty in our schools, houses of worship and faith-based organizations, the military, and throughout the marketplace and public arena.
After First Liberty obtained the first court victories for military services members with religious objections to the military vaccine mandate, including on behalf of our Navy SEAL clients, congressional legislation ended the mandate. Our lawsuit against U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of nurse practitioner Stephanie Carter resulted in a nationwide religious accommodation process for all VA employees. In New York, we obtained a favorable federal appeals court ruling upholding the First and Second Amendment rights of houses of worship.
Thank you for supporting us in what’s been an incredible and precedent-setting year. These victories and our continued fight in dozens of cases are advancing religious freedom for all Americans. We give God the glory and celebrate these wins. But we have many battles ahead and our mission continues until we see religious liberty fully protected in law, respected and flourishing in America.