Radical Groups & Hostile State Officials Continue to Defy Supreme Court Rulings

September 29, 2023
First Liberty Insider | Radical Groups

by Jorge Gomez  • 5 min read

If you’re around First Liberty, you’ll quickly realize winning is part of our culture. We like to win. We go to court and fight with everything we have to get the victory. As the adage goes, “We’re in it to win it.” And with God’s grace and the support of countless Americans like you, we keep getting tremendous results.

Just stop for a moment and consider what you’ve helped First Liberty achieve at the U.S. Supreme Court. Since 2018, we had nine wins. In only six years! There’s no question religious freedom is on a winning streak.

Here are the cases we’ve won: (1) Faithful Carrier (Groff v. DeJoy); (2) Sweet Cakes by Melissa (Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries); (3) Coach Joe Kennedy (Kennedy v. Bremerton School District); (4) Treat Children Fairly (Carson v. Makin); (5) OSHA / Vaccine Mandate (Word of God Fellowship, Inc. v. OSHA); (6) Puerto Rico Schools (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan v. Feliciano); (7) Sweet Cakes by Melissa (Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries); (8) Bladensburg Peace Cross (American Legion v. American Humanist Association); (9) Mary Anne Sause (Sause v. Bauer).

Some of our opponents, however, don’t seem to accept the fact that we won and they lost these cases.

Perhaps it would serve them well to heed a simple, yet profound piece of advice that many of us heard growing up: Don’t be a sore loser.

It actually appears that the more we win, anti-religion groups only grow more brazen, more hostile and more active than before. As we gain ground and restore religious liberty where it rightfully and legally belongs, their response has been to double down their attacks. In many states, government officials are openly flouting the law and refusing to follow the Supreme Court’s direction.

We’ve witnessed this defiance in our cases, which should have been brought to a conclusion shortly after the Supreme Court issued its orders.

Look at what happened in our Coach Kennedy case. We won a historic victory restoring Coach Kennedy’s job and his constitutional right to pray. But the Bremerton School District in Washington appears to have refused to accept defeat. The district seems to have retaliated against him after he returned to the high school football team. The district’s perceived mistreatment is a big reason why Coach Kennedy made the difficult decision to step down from his job.

We’re also seeing this happen in our Maine school-choice case. After our landmark victory in Carson, Maine persists in trying to exclude our client, Bangor Christian School, and other religious schools from participating in the state’s school-choice program. We had to go to federal court (again) to make sure Maine officials follow the law.

More of the same is happening in our Sweet Cakes by Melissa case. We secured not one, but two, favorable rulings (one in 2019 and another in 2023) for cake artists Aaron and Melissa Klein. On both occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that Americans should not be forced to convey messages that violate their religious convictions. It sent the case back with clear direction that Aaron and Melissa deserve justice and equal consideration of their claims.

Yet, the state of Oregon continues to drag its feet. We fought their case through the state courts for years, and we recently asked them once again to bring the case to a close and issue a final decision in favor of the Kleins.

Winning Babe Ruth | First Liberty Insider

This Battle Isn’t Over. Don’t Stop Now. Let’s Keep Winning.

The opposition’s message is clear: They will fight us at every possible turn. Frankly, it seems that they don’t care about us winning at the Supreme Court. They will defy the Court, the rule of law and continue harassing people of faith until they get their way. We cannot let them get away with it.

There’s no doubt that in the fight for religious liberty, we need a winning mindset. Victories are key in getting our country back on track. Michael Reagan—son of President Ronald Reagan—wrote in a memoir that his father’s “We win, you lose” approach was among the most effective strategies:

“That phrase ‘We win, they lose,’ drives liberal-progressives crazy. They can’t accept the fact that there is Good and Evil in the world and that Good should win and Evil should lose…It was one of the many stratagems Ronald Reagan employed to collapse the Soviet economy and bring down the Iron Curtain.”

There’s a time to celebrate a win and a time to get back to work. TODAY, THERE’S WORK TO DO. We have many legal battles at all levels—from your local schoolboard to the federal courts of appeals—that we need to win.

We cannot squander these opportunities, and your ongoing support is needed now more than ever. We need to keep fighting. We won before, so let’s win again. Baseball icon Babe Ruth said it well: “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”

The Battle Is Not Over | First Liberty Insider

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