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A Spring Full of Major Court Battles for First Liberty and Our Clients

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January 27, 2023
FLI Insider | Spring Cases 2023

by Mia Gradick & Jorge Gomez • 5 min read

It’s going to be a busy spring for First Liberty! Over the next few months, our legal team will argue several cases: one at the U.S. Supreme Court and four at federal appeals courts.

First Liberty is no stranger to high-stakes arguments. During the previous Supreme Court term, and with God’s help, First Liberty had two landmark victories: our Coach Kennedy case and our Treat Children Fairly case. We also secured important wins in multiple federal court cases, which you can read more about here.

Even with these crucial wins in hand, our work continues at the highest level.

We have tremendous opportunities to bring about robust change for religious liberty this spring. These five cases could impact Americans across some very important areas, including the workplace, schools, houses of worship and the military. These arguments are quickly approaching, and we’re counting on your support to make sure we’re fully prepared to tackle them head on.

Workplace: Forcing Religious Americans Out of Their Jobs is Wrong and Illegal

First Liberty and our volunteer attorneys will argue at the U.S. Supreme Court later this spring on behalf of Gerald Groff, a postal worker who was wrongfully forced to quit because of his religious beliefs. When the U.S. Postal Service started delivering packages for Amazon on Sundays, Gerald requested a religious accommodation to honor the Sunday Sabbath. But the USPS ultimately denied his request, in direct violation of federal civil rights law.

On March 27, First Liberty will be arguing in defense of Fire Chief Ron Hittle at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. After 24 years of service, the city of Stockton, California fired him for attending a leadership conference that took place at a church.

Religious discrimination in the workplace is a major issue, especially when employers continue to defy the law by punishing, demoting and firing workers over their religious beliefs and convictions. People of faith are being reduced to second-class citizens, as just about any other right trumps religious liberty. Winning for Gerald and Chief Hittle could affect every person of faith and their employment protections under the law.

Military: Vindicating Service Members Who Were Punished for Their Faith

On February 6, we are scheduled to argue our U.S. Navy SEALs case at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. We will be facing off against the Biden administration and Pentagon officials who have pursued a punitive and vindictive approach toward service members who requested a legal, religious accommodation to the vaccine mandate.

Our military heroes—including some of First Liberty’s own team members—have been mistreated, discriminated against, denied deployment and advancement opportunities, or even thrown out of the military simply because they wanted to serve in a manner consistent with their beliefs.

First Liberty has been fighting for them for well over a year and getting to this point has been a long and arduous battle. We’ve poured tremendous resources into fighting these cases. Our upcoming argument is a crucial opportunity to make sure service members are not punished for their faith. The outcome could impact thousands of America’s men and women serving in uniform.

Houses of Worship: Fighting to Make Sure Churches are Not Singled Out

On March 20, we will be arguing at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of His Tabernacle Family Church, a nondenominational Christian congregation in Horseheads, New York, founded by Pastor Micheal Spencer.

First Liberty and law firm Clement & Murphy filed a federal lawsuit against the state of New York challenging its prohibition on firearms at places of worship, while allowing comparable secular organizations to establish their own policies. Under this law, Home Depot or the local diner can decide whether to allow patrons to protect themselves, but churches and pastors cannot.

No American should be forced to sacrifice one constitutionally protected freedom to enjoy another. The outcome of this case will impact the constitutional freedoms of all houses of worship, including their right to decide for themselves whether to allow legally possessed firearms into their facilities.

Schools: Protecting Students’ Right to Pray

On May 1, First Liberty will argue for Cambridge Christian School at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case involves two private Christian schools that competed for a state championship in 2015 at what was then the Citrus Bowl, now known as Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. The Florida High School Athletic Association prohibited them from using the city-owned microphone to pray before kickoff.

The outcome of the Cambridge Christian case is vitally important. It could impact the freedoms and rights of students and religious schools across the country. If state officials can discriminate against Christian schools and prevent them from praying in public, it won’t be long before they find other speech to censor.

Another Historic Year for Religious Liberty?

Last year’s incredible successes at the Supreme Court and other federal court cases brought about a huge, positive shift for religious freedom law in America.

With the cases we’re fighting this spring, 2023 could be another historic turning point. These cases have the potential to preserve our cherished First Freedom for decades to come.

These arguments are right around the corner and we need your help in replenishing our resources. Your support is the reason why we continue bringing on the big wins and protecting the rights of your children and grandchildren. Every dollar you give is essential in keeping our expert legal team equipped to fight these religious liberty battles. Please donate today.

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