by Jorge Gomez • 7 min read
A widespread resurgence of faith is happening in America. This isn’t just the product of our two major Supreme Court victories in our Coach Kennedy case and Treat Children Fairly case that we won earlier this summer. It’s also the combined result of all the wins we achieved throughout the year.
Of course, none of these would be possible if it were not for YOU. You’re the one propelling our work at First Liberty, allowing us to take on more cases and achieve higher levels of success than ever before. Here are 10 key legal triumphs you helped accomplish this year:
1. Appeals Court Affirms Chaplain-Led Courtroom Invocations
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld Judge Wayne Mack’s practice of recognizing volunteer chaplains who sometimes open court sessions with a brief invocation. This is a tremendous victory that brings an end to years of harassment against Judge Mack.
2. Massachusetts Church Now Free to Open Religious School
Vida Real Church in Somerville, Massachusetts applied to open a private, religious school. Members of the Somerville Public School Committee voiced opposition to the church’s religious beliefs. But after we intervened, the committee approved the application—which means the church will be able to open the school.
3. Light of the World Gospel Ministries Now Free to Build New Facility
Pastor Paul Malcomson shepherds Light of the World Gospel Ministries in the Village of Walthill, Nebraska. Our attorneys reached a favorable settlement that will allow the church to build a multi-use facility on Main Street for worship, ministry and commercial businesses.
4. The Bible Stays and Our Veterans Win
In our POW/MIA Remembrance Bible Display case, a federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the deceptively named Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). The MRFF sued to remove a donated Bible displayed on a POW/MIA Remembrance Table at the VA Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire. That means the Bible stays. This is a win for our clients, the Northeast POW/MIA Network, a private organization of veterans that owns and maintains the display.
5. SEALing Key Victories for our Nation’s Elite Warriors
We secured two important victories in federal court for our Navy SEAL clients. First, a district court judge ordered that the DoD cannot punish our clients under the DoD’s vaccine mandate while the case progresses. Second, the court expanded the lawsuit to a class action, protecting thousands of Navy personnel with religious objections. While we are thankful for these victories, the fight for the Navy SEALs is far from over. We still are in an intense battle for their rights.
6. Supreme Court Takes a Jab at the Vaccine Mandate
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on companies with more than 100 employees. This illegal expansion of government power threatened the freedoms of religious organizations and people of faith in the workplace. The ruling brought huge relief to First Liberty’s clients—Daystar Television Network, Answers in Genesis and American Family Association—three religious employers that challenged the mandate in consolidated cases.
7. Federal Judge Blocks Village’s Attempt to Seize Jewish Congregation’s Property
A federal district judge blocked the Village of Atlantic Beach, New York from seizing property owned by our clients, Chabad of the Beaches, through eminent domain. This is a preliminary victory for this Jewish congregation and an important step forward to help restore freedom to Rabbi Eli Goodman so his congregation can worship, serve and be a light in their community.
8. Jewish Ceremony Protected from Radical Activists
A California judge granted a legal victory for our clients, the Hebrew Discovery Center, a small Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Woodland Hills, just outside Los Angeles. The judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the synagogue by anti-Kapparot activists. The activists sought to end a centuries-old Orthodox Jewish ceremony practiced by the synagogue.
9. Christian Ministry Free to Continue Operating Vital Homeless Shelter
A Florida circuit court issued a ruling in favor of our client, City Walk Urban Mission. The judge tossed out a prior decision that denied City Walk’s application to operate a homeless shelter in Tallahassee. The ruling said the local planning commission failed to follow the law and sent the case back to the commission for reconsideration.
10. San Diego Symphony Agrees to Stop Discrimination Against a Church
First Liberty recently secured a victory for Awaken Church in San Diego. For a Christmas program, the church requested to rent the Rady Shell, a concert venue owned by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra Association. The association refused, saying it would not rent to religious organizations. We sent a demand letter, explaining that these actions were illegal. Within days, venue officials changed their decision and offered to rent to Awaken Church.
As we celebrate these victories, we want to thank you for supporting First Liberty. These are just SOME of the many victories you made possible this year.
Wins like these are incredibly significant to those involved. They make a big difference in the lives of Americans who simply want to exercise their constitutional rights and live in liberty.
It’s through those small, yet abundant victories that we see some of the most meaningful impact, because collectively, these wins all add up to help protect religious liberty for millions of Americans across our country.