READY: Liberty Institute Prepares 5-Point Plan for Supreme Court Marriage Decision and Its Ramifications on Religious Liberty

June 25, 2015

In the next few days, the U.S. Supreme Court will announce whether it will impose a redefinition of marriage on all America in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The Court’s decision could:

  1. Impose a marriage redefinition nationally, all at once, by finding that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
  2. Decline to impose a national redefinition, yet find that states which do not allow redefined marriage must accept the same-sex marriages of those married in states where it is allowed. For practical purposes, this would spread a redefinition of marriage on a more gradual, state-by-state basis.
  3. Decline to impose a national redefinition and decline to require states to accept same-sex marriages of other states. Even this outcome would be fraught with hazards for religious freedom, since advocates of redefining marriage would put pressure on state governments to legalize same-sex marriage state-by-state, with religious freedom in the crosshairs of such a multi-state legal struggle.

The most difficult scenario, however, is the first one. For that reason, First Liberty Institute submitted a much-praised friend-of-the-court brief (amicus brief) asking the Court to decline to redefine marriage because of the potentially severe impact upon religious freedom and free speech any such ruling could have.

This week, Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO & Chief Counsel of First Liberty Institute, stated,

“Like many across America, I’m praying for the Court to do the right thing. But our main concern at First Liberty Institute is preserving the rights of people of faith—including those whose religious beliefs don’t agree with what the Court might impose.”

To be ready for how any decision could impact religious freedom, First Liberty Institute has prepared legal strategies ready to protect our foundational First Amendment rights no matter what the Court rules.

“No matter what the Court decides,” said Shackelford, “we are committed to defending and restoring religious liberty even as the battle for such key freedoms will expand and cases will multiply. There are solid measures that can be used to protect churches, ministries, employers, employees, students, teachers, and others whose faith tells them marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman. In fact, we’ve been preparing for months, helping organizations and individuals defend their religious liberty, and the results are promising.”

He added, “The Court’s decision won’t take us by surprise. We’re ready to defend and, if necessary, restore religious liberty across America.”


First Liberty Institute’s 5-point legal strategy to deal with the post-Obergefell America that will be here soon:

  1. Focus on the Courts. Elections are important. But right now, the attacks on religious liberty are moving too fast for an election to fix—and this will get worse if the Supreme Court imposes a national redefinition of marriage. We have won these key battles before and we must continue to win for religious freedom in court. And it must happen immediately.
  2. Use Existing Laws to Keep Winning. First Liberty Institute litigators have a 90%-plus win rate, even in tough cases. We know how to use existing laws and court precedents to win legal cases. No matter what the Supreme Court rules in the marriage case, laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and numerous court precedents are on our side. The Court’s ruling will not change the truth that Americans have a constitutional right to speak and to act according to our beliefs.
  3. Use New Laws to Win. Our attorneys are advising several state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to make sure a plethora of new religious freedom laws are written in language that will withstand legal challenges. These laws will make it easier to win in court.
  4. Use Religious Liberty Audits to Protect Churches, Ministries, and Businesses. First Liberty Institute attorneys are employing Religious Liberty Audits to enhance legal protection for organizations. These audits analyze an organization’s documents and practices, and then offer revisions to protect the organization from the new brand of “sexual liberty” attacks that can cripple the ability to minister.
  5. Expand Our Winning Formula. First Liberty Institute wins. But now we must expand to meet the multiplied challenges of new hostility to religious freedom. One First Liberty Institute staff lawyer can coordinate up to 20 volunteer litigators across the nation. We select strategic cases to create a ripple effect of freedom. We plan to add staff lawyers to expand the victims of unlawful religious discrimination we can help.

“The battle for religious freedom is escalating,” said Shackelford, “And it is a battle we are ready for and can win with expert legal strategy.”


Shackelford told First Liberty Institute friends in a special video, “The real key will be the response of people of faith like you. Will people of faith needlessly give up? Or instead, will people of faith stand up? Will people of faith be willing to assert their legal rights and push back? Will people of faith come together and support each other as we use the law to say ‘no’ to attempts to misuse this decision to erase our freedoms?”

“We can win,” he said, “if we stand.”

Please click here if you would like to give a donation to help defend and restore religious freedom.

Other stories:

Two Victories for Religious Freedom: North Carolina, Michigan Pass Laws to Protect Religious Liberty for Magistrates, Adoption Agencies

NOT ALONE: Reinforcements Support LCpl Monifa Sterling—Marine Court-Martialed over Bible Verse


To stand up for religious freedom in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, please give generously to help First Liberty Institute expand our capacity to defend more victims of religious discrimination. A $300,000 Matching Grant will DOUBLE your donation if given by June 30. Giving in response to this Matching Grant will help First Liberty Institute hire more staff attorneys, recruit and coordinate potentially dozens of elite volunteer attorneys from major law firms, and win more cases. Please give now and make your gift go twice as far!

About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit

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