Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Chapter Opens in the Fight to Defend Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial


This week Liberty Institute heads back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and files an opening brief 



This week, Liberty Institute and our volunteer attorneys filed an opening brief on behalf of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association (MSMA) in the Trunk v. United States of America and Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, which is again at  the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Court—after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the request by the MSMA to review early the case this past July.

“We’re continuing to fight for this veterans memorial and the selfless sacrifice and service of all the millions of veterans it represents,” said Liberty Institute President and CEO, Kelly Shackelford.  “It is the least we can do for those who gave so much to us all.” 

Liberty Institute’s Director of Litigation Hiram Sasser adds, “If this cross comes down, then the World War I cross memorials at Arlington National Cemetery and elsewhere will be open targets for destruction or removal.”

HISTORY ON THE HILLTOP

The Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial has stood since 1954 as a symbol of the selfless sacrifice and service of our nation’s military.  Standing high on a hilltop in San Diego, California, the memorial includes a 29-foot cross with a plaque identifying it as a veterans memorial and is surrounded by eleven large granite walls that display the photos and names of our veterans, along with various and diverse religious and secular symbols.  Over 3,500 Americans are honored—including presidents (Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower), generals, and men and women whose names are not familiar, but who proudly served to help preserve the freedom we enjoy as Americans.

For more than 20 years, this veterans memorial has been the subject of a lawsuit brought about by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which claims the memorial’s cross violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.  Liberty Institute, and our volunteer attorney team at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, joined the fight on behalf of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association to save the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial cross in 2012, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled the cross unconstitutional.

MILESTONES IN THE ONGOING COURT BATTLE

Here are a few of the major milestones (click here for an entire list) of how Liberty Institute has ramped up the efforts in this important fight:
  • February 2012 - On behalf the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association,(“MSMA”) Liberty Institute filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to have the Ninth Circuit decision overturned. The next month, the U.S. Department of Justice also joined the appeal.
  • June 25, 2012 - The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petitions to hear oral arguments in the case at that time.
  • July 2012 - The ACLU sought to have the MSMA removed from participating any further in the case as a party.
  • October 2012 - The federal district court judge rejected the ACLU’s attempt to remove the MSMA from the case, granting their request to intervene as a party.
  • July 2013 - In advance of a district court hearing, the ACLU submitted its brief in which it proposed its remedy to end the case:  tear down the cross.
  • December 2013 - U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns of the U.S. Southern District Court for the Southern District of California reluctantly ruled in favor of the ACLU, ordering the historic memorial cross torn down.  But the judge did grant a stay, giving Liberty Institute and our client the opportunity to appeal, which we did a few days later.
  • February 2014 - The U.S. government joined Liberty Institute and the MSMA in appealing the ruling.
  • March 2014 - Liberty Institute filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case immediately.
  • April 2014 - Numerous friend-of-the-court briefs poured into the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Liberty Institute’s petition.
  • June 30, 2014 - The Supreme Court denied the request by the MSMA to review the case early.
  • October 15, 2014 – Liberty Institute filed an opening brief in the Ninth Circuit.
WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR VETERANS

The first Korean War Veterans Memorial placed on U.S. soil, the memorial’s plaques commemorate the service of veterans, living and deceased, from the Revolutionary War up to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan—and it’s the only memorial in the nation which does so.  Over half of the veterans have been honored while still living, including these service members:
  • Captain Joseph John, USN (Ret) – whose daughter Jessica John Gercke says of Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial:  “This is such a wonderful, wonderful place, and I’m so happy that I have had the opportunity to get a plaque for my father while he is still alive.  What an honor this was for him to get to experience this with his family all around him.”
  • Brian “Iron Ed” Hiner, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy – Afghanistan, Iraq, Philippines – “What an honor it is to have a place on this wall.  Such great men and women who have served and sacrificed for this country!”
  • Mary Earle Greenwald, Hospital Apprentice First Class, U.S. Navy – World War II – “My husband [James Greenwald, Lieutenant Junior Grade, U.S. Navy, USS McGinty (DE-365), Pacific Theater, Japan – World War II] and I each have a plaque on this wall.  My grandson Ed [Hiner] has his plaque up there, and I’m extremely proud of my family’s service.”

CARETAKERS AND DEFENDERS THWARTING DESTRUCTION

The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association is comprised of veterans, who originally erected the Veterans Memorial in 1954 and have served as caretakers of the veterans memorial for more than half a century. 

Each day this case lingers unresolved, the Greatest Generation fades into history with the Memorial that honors them (and veterans of all wars) still under threat of destruction.

Liberty Institute volunteer attorney Allyson Ho, co-chair of the U.S. Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP,  serves as lead counsel for the MSMA and is leading the efforts to protect the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross.

GIVING BACK TO THOSE WHO GAVE ALL

Liberty Institute will never back down and is committed to this fight to save Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross in yet another phase of the battle.  And it’s our honor to defend memorials like these for men and women who are defending our nation’s freedom both at home and abroad.

But to continue the fight—and others across our great nation—we need the continuing support of friends like you.  So please donate now and help us unleash more attorneys for more cases in the church, in schools, in the public arena and in the military!



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About Liberty Institute
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 www.LibertyInstitute.org.

Interview with a Volunteer Attorney: Allyson Ho


Former special assistant to President George W. Bush leads Liberty Institute’s legal charge to save veterans memorial cross 


"They never gave up . . . so we can't give up fighting for them."

Allyson Ho is passionate about the law, her family, her country, and her work defending religious liberty in the nationally famous Mt.Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross case.  One of Liberty Institute’s elite corps of the best attorneys in America who volunteer their time to defend religious liberty, Allyson Ho has worked in both the United States Supreme Court and the White House.  And that was after graduating from a top law school . . . and that was after getting a Ph.D. and teaching at a noted college. 

Allyson studied English literature at Duke University (B.A., Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa), as well as securing an M.A. and Ph.D. from Rice University.  While she was an English professor at Asbury College in Asbury, Kentucky, Allyson discovered her love for First Amendment issues.  So she left “the bluegrass state” and headed to the University of Chicago Law School where she received her J.D., with high honors.

After law school, Allyson clerked for the first female Supreme Court Justice—Sandra Day O’Connor and shortly after worked in senior positions in both the U.S. Department of Justice and in the White House, as special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Allyson then became the co-chair of the U.S. Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and also forged a relationship with Liberty Institute as a volunteer attorney.

Of his experience working with Allyson, Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer says:  "Allyson Ho is one of the very best attorneys who I have had the pleasure to work with during my 24 years as a practicing attorney.  She combines superior intellect with unwavering commitment to conservative principles.  I can think of no other attorney in the country who I would want leading our efforts to protect the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial.”

Allyson recently shared about her work with Liberty Institute and her efforts to help fight against the destruction of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross, which she says is “a special way for me to honor my father . . . and all veterans and their families who have given so much for our country.”

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Why did you choose to become a volunteer attorney with Liberty Institute?

I have enormous respect for the quality of Liberty Institute’s work and the results they’ve achieved, so it’s an honor to serve as a volunteer attorney.  In particular, Liberty Institute’s work on behalf of veterans gives me an opportunity to serve those who have served our country so well.

You’re a wife, mother of young twins, and co-chair of the U.S. Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Practice at Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius LLP.  One might wonder how you do it all and find the time to be a volunteer attorney with Liberty Institute.  So how do you do it and why?   

Someone once told me, if you need something done, ask a busy person to do it!  I am blessed with an incredibly supportive family, including my husband, Jim Ho, who is the best appellate lawyer I know, and terrific colleagues whose support is invaluable, too.  And volunteering with Liberty Institute is just so incredibly rewarding!

In your work as a member of Liberty Institute’s national volunteer legal team, you are lead counsel for Mt. Soledad Memorial Association—co-defendant in Mt. Soledad Memorial Association v. Steve Trunk.  What has your experience been like working on this case?

In a word, amazing.  I’ve received emails from the families of service members who have taken pictures of the Memorial with them into harm’s way abroad, because it reminds them that their country honors the sacrifices they’re making for the freedoms we all enjoy.   And it’s a special way for me to honor my father, who is a Korean War veteran, and all veterans and their families who have given so much for our country.

Why do you think it’s worth not giving up in the Mt. Soledad case, even though this court battle has been going on for 20+ years now?

To me, that’s exactly why we need to stay engaged—honoring and remembering our veterans is simply too important!  They never gave up on the critical mission of preserving and protecting our liberty, so we can’t give up fighting for them, either.

With Mt. Soledad you’ve said before that the fate of hundreds of similar veterans memorial hangs in the balance.  Will you elaborate on that?

The use of religious imagery in war memorials to honor and remember veterans is longstanding and ubiquitous.  If an Act of Congress is insufficient to protect the Memorial from destruction, then other memorials are similarly at risk.

Where is the hope in this ongoing battle to defend veterans memorials like Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial?

In the incredible support we’ve received across the spectrum—from people of faith and people of no faith, from Democrats and Republicans, from young and old, from veterans and civilians—who stand with us in preserving and protecting the Memorial in honor and memory of veterans, their families, and their supporters. 

What is the current status of the Mt. Soledad case and do you think it will reach the U.S. Supreme Court by next year?

We’ve only just submitted the opening briefing for the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, so the exact timetable is still unclear. 

Do you think that Liberty Institute is making a difference in stopping the religious persecution we’re seeing in our nation today?

I would say that Liberty Institute is playing a critical role in advancing the cause of religious liberty throughout the Nation.  I think it’s important to emphasize that many times, Liberty is able to protect religious liberties      without having to resort to litigation at all, because they are able to bring to bear their vast experience and expertise with these issues to quickly engage with government entities and resolve problems so that litigation is unnecessary.     

Finally, what should friends and supporters of Liberty Institute know about what it takes—as a volunteer attorney—in the battle to defend and protect our religious freedom?

That working with Liberty and its network of volunteer attorneys around the Nation is a real joy, and I’m very honored to have the opportunity to contribute, in a small way, to the cause of liberty that our brave men and women in uniform fight for every day.

YOUR ROLE IN CONTINUING OUR WINNING STRATEGY

When you support Liberty Institute through your ongoing financial support and prayer, you are helping to defend and restore religious freedom . . . and continue a unique, winning strategy:
  • Home-Field Advantage — Our national network of local volunteer attorneys—including Allyson Ho—know their communities and how to win, wherever in America the case is litigated.
  • All-Star Attorneys — Our network features only America’s best attorneys.  Many charge more than $1,000 per hour.  Yet they take religious liberty cases—as volunteer attorneys—pro bono (free of charge).
  • Multiplied Impact — For every dollar spent on a case by our staff attorneys, we receive invaluable pro bono legal time by our all-star volunteer attorneys across the nation.  That means your financial support of Liberty Institute goes a long way to bring down opponents—including the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), and more!



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About Liberty Institute
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 www.LibertyInstitute.org.

5 FACTS: How the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage "Non-Decision" Impacts Religious Liberty


On October 6, the United States Supreme Court declined to review appeals from five states, thereby allowing lower federal courts to impose same-sex marriage on unwilling citizens who voted overwhelmingly to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  What does it mean for religious liberty?

Matthew Kacsmaryk, Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel, who served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas and represented the United States government before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, offers five facts necessary to understand what the Supreme Court did, why, and the implications for religious liberty in the near and long-term future.

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1. THE COURT ERRED BY DECLINING TO UPHOLD CITIZENS’ RIGHT TO DEFINE MARRIAGE

According to Kacsmaryk, because the federal Constitution is silent on the subject, state residents have the right to define marriage through the normal political process: state constitutional amendments, referenda, or legislation.  In five states—Oklahoma, Indiana, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin—lower federal courts struck down marriage laws defining marriage as the conjugal union of one man and one woman.

He said, “By declining to review appeals filed by five states, the Supreme Court abdicated its sworn responsibility to uphold the constitutional rights of millions of citizens to define marriage as the sexually complementary union of one man and one woman serving the proven state interest of binding biological fathers to mothers and their children.”

“As noted in Justice Alito’s dissenting opinion in United States v. Windsor (the case that struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act) and several recent Circuit Court opinions,” said Kacsmaryk, “the Constitution is silent on the subject matter, which means the citizens of the 50 states remain free to define marriage as the sexually complementary union of a one man and one woman — a definition that has endured for thousands of years and in diverse cultures with diverse religious traditions.”

2. THE COURT’S CONSERVATIVES MAY HAVE FEARED A LOSS   

Kacsmaryk acknowledged that many people wondered why the conservatives on the Court did not insist on bringing the issue to a head by taking the case.  He said, “It takes four Justices to hear a case at the United States Supreme Court—the ‘Rule of Four.’  Conservative Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito affirmed the Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor, but likely did not invoke the Rule of Four to grant certiorari because they were concerned that Justice Kennedy might cast a fifth and deciding vote for same-sex marriage.  In short, they likely wanted to avoid a Roe v. Wade-style opinion nationalizing same-sex marriage in one fell swoop.”

3. REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE IS MOVING FORWARD, THOUGH      INCREMENTALLY—WITH LANDMARK CASES IN THE QUEUE

“Though the citizens of the 50 states have not endured a Roe-style national upheaval,” says Kacsmaryk, “traditional marriage is suffering death by a thousand cuts as activist District Court and Circuit judges are misreading Windsor and misreading the text and history of the Constitution to effect social change via judicial fiat.”  Kacsmaryk notes, “Advocates of same-sex marriage understandably perceive that American society is at a tipping point, but it is not the job of the federal judiciary to make the final push, to ratify popular trends through a mendacious re-writing of the Constitution.”  

The Supreme Court’s recent inaction is disappointing for the affected states, but it is not the end of the road.  “The United States District Court upheld Louisiana’s marriage law in the Robicheaux case, which will be argued to the same Fifth Circuit judges who will hear the Texas marriage case,” says Kacsmaryk.  “When combined with the Michigan and Ohio marriage cases pending before the Sixth Circuit, there is a real possibility of a Circuit split—which will most likely lead to a final decision at the Supreme Court.”  Finally, Kacsmaryk is hopeful that Justice Kennedy, a frequent supporter of federalism and individual conscience, “does not want to author the Roe v. Wade of the 21st Century.”

4. SILVER LINING: ADDITIONAL TIME TO ENACT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY PROTECTIONS 

The implications for religious liberty are clear: same-sex “marriage” is at odds with sincerely held religious beliefs of tens of millions of Americans. Legally redefining marriage can, in various ways, back many of those citizens into a corner. They face the moral dilemma of either affirming their religious beliefs on sexuality and marriage, or suffering discrimination.  What can they do?

“There is a silver lining in these dark clouds,” says Kacsmaryk.  “Because the Supreme Court declined to hear these cases, in all likelihood the nationalization of same-sex marriage cannot occur before June 2015, thereby giving pro-marriage advocates more time to implement conscience protections for persons who dissent from the New Sexual Orthodoxy.”

He cited at least four examples of prospective religious liberty protections:
  • MARFA: Marriage and Religious Freedom Act—Sponsored by Rep. Raul Labrador (R, ID) in the House and Sen. Mike Lee (R, UT) in the Senate, this proposed federal law would prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their sincere religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations should be exclusively for such a marriage.
  •  CWPIA: Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act—Sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi (R, WY) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R, PA), this proposed federal law would protect the religious liberties of child welfare service providers by prohibiting the federal government—and any state that receives certain federal funding—from discriminating against child welfare service providers who place adoption and foster children in homes headed by a married mother and father, pursuant to their sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions.
  • SMDA: State Marriage Defense Act—Sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX) and Senator Mike Lee (R, UT), along with Rep. Randy Weber (R, TX) on the House side, the Act would, for federal purposes, prohibit the term "marriage” from referring to any relationship that an individual's state of residence does not recognize, and prohibits the term "spouse" from including anyone whose marriage is not recognized by their state of residence.
  • RFRAs: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts—These are state-by-state laws that protect conscience rights of priests, pastors, rabbis, chaplains, florists, bakers, and others with sincerely-held religious beliefs on marriage.  All of these proposed laws (or existing, since some states already have RFRAs) will give religious liberty attorneys important ground on which to stand in defending the free exercise of religion against attempted efforts to use same-sex “marriage” to restrict religious freedom.

Liberty Institute is at the forefront of monitoring and evaluating the same-sex “marriage” controversy so that we can provide advice and counsel to those persecuted for their beliefs on this issue, as we have done in the past and are currently doing for clients.


5. SUPPORTERS OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND MARRIAGE MUST DIG IN FOR A LONG BATTLE

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, regimes planted by “bayonets” do not long take root.  And that may include the bayonets of judicial imposition.  It’s possible to envision a future where imposed same-sex “marriage” becomes a failed social experiment, and Americans’ natural inclination for religious liberty trumps top-down efforts to squelch it.  In fact, it’s possible to prepare the legal and cultural ground for such a “traditional marriage comeback” by the legal and legislative actions taken today.

Indeed, the pro-life movement provides a lesson, as the culture shifts against abortion rights and laws are steadily eroding the legal parameters of abortion.  “Learning from the pro-life movement,” says Kacsmaryk, “the pro-marriage movement must prepare for the long war:  fight for the right to remain in the public square, earn conscience protections for religious dissenters, and collect the social data for traditional marriage that will win the case 40 years from now.”




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About Liberty Institute

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 www.LibertyInstitute.org.

Friday, October 10, 2014

VICTORY! New York Public High School Denies - Then Accepts - Students’ Request to Continue Faith-Based Club


Forgetting a lesson from last year, Ward Melville High School officials said “NO” to Students United in Faith . . .



This week, Liberty Institute—and our volunteer attorneys at McDermott, Will & Emery—sent a demand letter to officials at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, NY, for wrongfully denying students’ request to continue their faith-based club.  Within a day, school officials reversed course, followed the law, and allowed the club.

The case had already exploded in the media, and in Fox News contributor Todd Starnes’ op-ed, “School bans Christian club . . . again,” he called out the school for denying the students their rights:

“They want to marginalize these young Christian teenagers and make them think there’s something inappropriate, something sleazy about their religious beliefs.  But what’s truly sleazy is government-employed bigots continuing to bully Christian teens trying to do good deeds.”

WE’VE GOT TROUBLE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL

The troubled originally started in the fall of 2013, when Ward Melville High School student John Raney submitted a request to start a faith-based club called Students United in Faith (SUIF)—a service-oriented group which has held successful food drives and has been making a positive impact in a community fighting against increasing drug use and suicide amongst teens.  School officials denied his request to start the club because it was religious, and so John contacted Liberty Institute.

Working with our volunteer attorney law firm, McDermott Will & Emery, we sent a demand letter to the school, warning them of the risk of legal action.  The school district reversed their decision within seven hours of receiving our demand letter.

But this past spring, SUIF encountered trouble again when Ward Melville High School officials objected to the club’s students walking in a community Memorial Day parade.  A religious liberties group had invited SUIF to walk with them, but the school told John and his fellow club members that they could only walk separately from the group.

John called Liberty Institute again, and Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys advised him of his Constitutional rights of free speech and association, and that the club could legally walk in the parade with the religious liberties group.  So John and SUIF went ahead and walked with the group in the parade.  Dys indicated, at the time, that SUIF had not been disciplined by the school as a result.  “But if the school attempts to do so,” he said, “we are prepared to once again act to defend John and his club.”

THAT’S A “NO” TWO YEARS IN A ROW

This year, in a stunning reversal, Ward Melville High School again wrongfully denied students’ request to continue Students United in Faith on campus this fall. 

When John sought guidance last month from the new assistant principal at the school—Dr. Christian Losee—regarding the procedure to re-apply for recognition of an existing club for the 2014-15 school year, he was told that no formal application was necessary.  Dr. Losee also indicated that he intended to send an email to the advisors of the current school clubs to ask if they were willing to again serve as advisors for the 2014-15 school year.  John informed Dr. Losee that the current advisor of SUIF was likely unavailable for the Fall 2014 semester, but he would easily be able to find another advisor. 

Dr. Losee then advised John that he should submit an application to Dr. Losee by Tuesday, September 9, 2014, and accordingly John submitted the application on that day.  But by September 10, 2014, the School rejected SUIF in writing, allegedly because of “[c]ontractual guidelines regarding minimum student participation in co-curricular activities” and “Ward Melville High School’s financial limitations.”

TO AVOID FURTHER LEGAL ACTION, PLEASE RECONSIDER

In our demand letter dated October 6, 2014, Liberty Institute—and our volunteer attorneys at McDermott Will & Emery—challenged school officials’ rejection and stated:

“It seems obvious that the School’s stated reasons for rejection of John’s application are once again simply pretext—we are not aware of any other similarly situated clubs that have received such denials.  Thus, it is clear that SUIF’s application was rejected due to religious discrimination and retaliation.”

To avoid further legal action, we requested that school officials and school board members reconsider their position and grant John’s request to formally register SUIF by October 9, 2014.

IT’S A CLEAR AND DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE LAW

“This is not a complicated issue,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Litigation Director.  “Simply put, public schools cannot discriminate against religious clubs and must treat them the same as other student clubs on campus.” 

Todd Harrison, Liberty Institute volunteer attorney and a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, added:  “The decision to eject SUIF’s request to continue as a club on campus is a clear and direct violation of the Equal Access Act of 1984, Supreme Court precedent, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  There is simply no legal basis for the School’s decision in this case.”

It’s shocking that such discrimination would happen two years in a row.  But John Raney is not alone in this fight to restore the lawful rights of Students United in Faith.

“Our son said he is ready to stand for religious liberty,” his mom Trudy Fischer said.  “And we back him 100 percent.”  Another parent of a student member of SUIF said, “I thought the school would easily renew SUIF after the club welcomed several students to each meeting and held successful food drives on behalf of four different food pantries last semester.” 

The happy ending came Thursday, October 9, when lawyers for the school district informed Liberty Institute and Todd Harrison that Students United in Faith was approved to meet this year.

“This is a fantastic and just ending,” commented Sasser. “Now Students United in Faith can continue their work uplifting the community, helping the needy, and living out their religious faith—as is the right of every American.  This continues a trend of students standing up for their lawful rights and schools—slowly but surely—seeing the light of the law.”

HELP DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF STUDENTS IN OUR NATION’S SCHOOLS

But with 60 million children in our public school system, there is much work to do.  Too many students don't know their rights.  Too many educators don't know that students have broad religious rights.  But as Liberty Institute continues to win more than 90% of our cases, including many school cases, the landscape—and the future of America—can change.

To stop similar unlawful violations, and to defend the rights of John Raney and other students across our nation in public schools today, we need your help. 

Through your prayer support and through your financial gift today, you can help Liberty Institute continue standing up to government officials—and anti-religion groups—in the battle for religious freedom, and help us continue providing FREE, easy-to-understand resources that students can download at any time, including:
  • Know Your Religious Rights Kit fully equips students, parents, and teachers to know their religious liberties in public schools and be prepared to defend and restore their rights when they come under attack.
  • Student Bill of Rights in Schools Brochure a condensed version of our “Know Your Religious Rights” kit that gives a quick overview of students’ rights when it comes to religious speech, expression, or practice in public schools.
Please share these resources with as many students as possible today!  Because when young men and women of faith know and practice their religious liberties, they can empower others and become a vibrant religious influence—spread from student to student—while helping to restore moral order today and for generations of student to come!




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About Liberty Institute
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 www.LibertyInstitute.org.