Around the Institute: What’s Happening at First Liberty

January 26, 2024
Around the Institute | First Liberty Insider

A weekly roundup of exciting things happening at First Liberty.

Lessons Learned from Fauci’s Faux Science Faux Pas

President, CEO and Chief Counsel Kelly Shackelford wrote an op-ed for The Washington Times discussing unconstitutional pandemic restrictions by federal officials and how these impacted houses of worship in America:

“As a consequence of Dr. Fauci’s arbitrary edict, a majority of the Justices ruled that houses of worship should remain closed while casinos could remain open.  And it is no defense to suggest that the nation was in the midst of a pandemic… When other churches across the nation began to challenge blatant religious liberty violations, most courts rubber-stamped the government’s orders and edicts that lacked any scientific basis…Religious liberty is not easily taken by force; we are far more likely to lose it by abdication to experts—whether medical, legal, or otherwise—than by coercive means.  As Americans, we must remain vigilant to guard and protect religious freedom each day, or we risk losing it forever.”

In Key First Amendment Decision, Federal Appeals Court Cites First Liberty Cases

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion in Villareal v. City of Laredo. This is a First Amendment case involving a journalist who the police arrested for asking questions of government officials. The majority of the judges ruled that there is no clearly established right in the constitution to question government officials.

Three judges dissented from that opinion. Judge James C. Ho’s dissent directly referenced First Liberty and two of our cases protecting American’s First Amendment rights to free speech and religious liberty (Sause v Bauer and Morgan v Swanson). Alongside a broad coalition of public interest organizations, we submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in this case. We explained that all Americans have a right to ask questions of our government officials and journalists have a constitutionally protected right to free speech, even if we disagree with what they say.

This Month in First Liberty History: Remembering Our Clients and Victories

January 2015: Nine years ago, First Liberty had the honor of attending the retirement ceremony of our client, U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk.

Several members of our team including President & CEO Kelly Shackelford, Chief Legal Officer Jeff Mateer, Chief Operating Officer David Holmes, Executive General Counsel Hiram Sasser, Director of Military Affairs Mike Berry, as well as Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. “Jerry” Boykin, were on hand to celebrate with the 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, who served as a First Sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

SMSgt’s Monk’s entire career was threatened by discrimination based solely on his personal religious beliefs. His case was one of the most crucial religious freedom victories of the past decade. It not only saved his career, his name and the retirement that he’d earned after two decades of service, but also helped pave the way for countless more military service members to speak up about religious liberty violations happening inside the military.

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