By Greg Scott
Hot on the heels of Alliance Defending Freedom CEO Alan Sears being named to the Politico 50 as one of “the thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016,” Bloomberg BNA correspondent Patrick Gregory published a piece Oct. 10 highlighting the successful legal advocacy work of ADF over the last two decades.
The piece, headlined “Social Conservatives’ Legal Juggernaut” begins:
Alan Sears has been on the front lines for some of the most polarizing legal issues of our time, including same-sex marriage and bathroom access for transgender individuals.
Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization he leads, has had remarkable success promoting religious freedom, with 49 victories at the high court in various roles, including as counsel and amicus.
ADF is “a big player” that has “made a real difference” by “its sheer size and persistence,” Douglas Laycock, a professor at the University of Virginia law school, Charlottesville, Va., who has written extensively about religious liberty law, told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 5.
ADF's Supreme Court advocacy was also recently highlighted by scholars from the University of Southern California.
To put this in context, roughly 7,000-8,000 cases on a host of issues are submitted to the Supreme Court each year, and the Court accepts about 1% of those cases (75 to 80 cases). In contrast, and evidencing the importance of the work of ADF, since the founding of ADF, the Supreme Court has accepted approximately 33% of the ADF-supported cases submitted.
Gregory’s piece emphasizes the broad impact of several landmark ADF victories at the Supreme Court over the last few terms:
The group’s recent high court wins include defending a town’s legislative prayer practice in Town of Greece v. Galloway, 82 U.S.L.W. 4334, 2014 BL 124245 (U.S. May 5, 2014), and securing a church’s right to use signs giving directions to its worship services in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 83 U.S.L.W. 4444, 2015 BL 193522 (U.S. 2015) ( 83 U.S.L.W. 1950, 6/23/15).
ADF represented the petitioners in both cases, and those wins have had a ripple effect.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently relied heavily on Galloway in finding that a North Carolina county’s legislator-led prayers at opening meetings were constitutional, in Lund v. Rowan Cty., N.C., 2016 BL 307469 (4th Cir. Sept. 19, 2016) ( 85 U.S.L.W. 383, 9/20/16).
Further, Reed has been applied far beyond church signs—it’s been used to invalidate laws against robocalls, “ballot selfies” and panhandling ( 84 U.S.L.W. 1094, 2/5/16).
Of note, ADF is arguing the only religious freedom case at the Supreme Court this term, the “Playground Case,” Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley, which has been called “the most interesting case of the upcoming term” by The New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak.
The Bloomberg piece did not go unnoticed among legal commentators, gaining mention on several “must-read” legal blogs Above the Law, SCOTUS Blog, and How Appealing.
Sears also joined Gregory on the Bloomberg BNA podcast "Cases and Controversies" for a wide-ranging, 30-minute discussion.