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History of Alliance Defending Freedom


A Major Victory for the First Amendment
dr. meriwether
In Meriwether v. The Trustees of Shawnee State University, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rules that the university violated ADF client Dr. Nicholas Meriwether’s First Amendment rights when it punished the professor for declining a male student’s demand to be referred to as a woman.
ADF Achieves 12th Victory at U.S. Supreme Court Since 2011
Chike in front of SCOTUS
The Supreme Court delivers justice for ADF client Chike Uzuegbunam in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, ruling that the government officials who silenced him twice as he tried to share his faith on campus while a college student cannot evade accountability for violating his rights simply by changing their policies going forward.
Appeals Court Rules Nevada Churches Can’t Be Treated Worse Than Casinos
calvary chapel dayton valley
In Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit halted enforcement of Nevada’s COVID-19 restrictions that treated churches, including our clients, more harshly than other venues, such as casinos.
ADF Helps Thousands of Churches and Ministries Navigate COVID-19 Restrictions
Closed Church
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, ADF assists, or equips others to assist, more than 3,200 churches and ministries on COVID-19-related issues.
ADF Achieves 11th Victory at U.S. Supreme Court in Nine Years
Pro Life Generation
In March for Life Education and Defense Fund v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court vacates a federal appeals court decision against U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rules that protect organizations with religious or moral objections to including abortifacients in their health care plans, in light of the Court’s ruling the same year in Little Sisters of the Poor. ADF attorneys represented March for Life, organizer of the large annual pro-life march in Washington, D.C.
ADF Plays a Role in Three Crucial Wins at the U.S. Supreme Court
little sisters of the poor
Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue
In a case backed by ADF, the Supreme Court rules that states can’t oust parents and children from neutral benefit programs simply because they choose a religious private school.
Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, St. James School v. Biel
The Supreme Court affirms, in an ADF-backed case, that the First Amendment prevents the government from meddling with a religious group’s employment decisions about those who teach the faith.
Little Sisters of The Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Trump v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
In an ADF-backed case, the Supreme Court upholds the government’s ability to enact U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rules that protect organizations with religious or moral objections to abortion from being subject to a federal requirement that employer health plans cover abortifacients.
Student Speech Protected on California State University Campuses
Nathan Apodaca
A federal court holds that a CSU-San Marcos campus policy that allowed university officials to allocate student funding unequally and favor some student groups over others violates the First Amendment and the rights of our client, Nathan Apodaca. The court denied qualified immunity to the Chancellor and President which resulted in changes to the policies of all 23 other CSU campuses as well, representing close to half a million students.
ADF Achieves 10th Victory at U.S. Supreme Court in Eight Years
In Thompson v. Hebdon, the Supreme Court vacates a federal appeals court decision that had upheld Alaska’s draconian campaign contribution laws, ordering the lower court to revisit its previous ruling in light of the Court’s First Amendment decisions. ADF represented Alaska voters before the Court, together with lead counsel Paul D. Clement and other Kirkland & Ellis LLP attorneys.
Kentucky Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Print Shop Owner
Blaine Adamson
After a seven-year legal battle defending his right not to be forced to print messages that violate his religious beliefs, promotional printer and ADF client Blaine Adamson secures a unanimous victory at the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Arizona Supreme Court Issues Huge Win for Artistic Freedom
Brush n Nib
In Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix, the Arizona Supreme Court rules that the city of Phoenix cannot use a criminal law to force two artists and ADF clients to design and create custom wedding invitations expressing messages that conflict with their core beliefs.
Jack Wins Again
Jack Phillips
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission dismisses its second case against cake artist Jack Phillips in the wake of an ADF lawsuit and newly discovered evidence of the state’s ongoing hostility toward Jack and his faith.
A Major Win for Free Speech at the U.S. Supreme Court
maggie and ronan
In a pivotal free speech decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, after a California law forced pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry. ADF represented NIFLA before the Court. On remand, the lower court officially halted enforcement of the law.
Jack Wins at the U.S. Supreme Court
Jack Phillips
The U.S. Supreme Court rules 7-2 in favor of Colorado cake artist and ADF client Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, citing “impermissible hostility” by state officials toward Jack’s religious beliefs.
Chief Cochran Gets Justice
Chief Cochran
After a federal district court struck down a City of Atlanta speech policy that cost former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran his job, the city agrees to pay a $1.2 million settlement for violating the ADF client’s constitutional freedoms.
ADF Ministry Alliance Launched
Ladies Praying
With a growing number of Christian ministries facing threats to their religious freedom, ADF launches the Ministry Alliance as a companion to the Church Alliance to provide religious freedom legal advice.
2,000 Law Students Trained
Blackstone Students
The Blackstone Legal Fellowship surpasses 2,000 Christian law students who have been trained to make a lasting impact for Christ on the law and culture.
400th Win for the ADF Center for Academic Freedom
Students walking
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom celebrates its 400th win, protecting freedom on hundreds of American public university campuses.
A Precedent-Setting Victory for Religious Freedom
Trinity Lutheran boy holding up peace sign
In the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the government cannot exclude churches and other faith-based organizations from a government program simply because of their religious identity. ADF represented Trinity Lutheran before the Court.
ADF Church Alliance Launched
Bible Reading
To make it possible for Christian churches of all sizes to access affordable legal advice for their religious freedom needs, ADF launches the ADF Church Alliance.
New CEO Michael Farris
Alan Sears and Michael Farris
ADF introduces Michael Farris as the organization’s new President and CEO. Mike assumes this post as the second ADF CEO, following Alan Sears, who served for 23 years.
A Key Victory for Life and Religious Freedom
Greg Baylor
In Zubik v. Burwell, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously vacates the ruling against five Christian universities (represented by ADF) and other religious groups challenging the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate, sending the cases back to the lower courts.
1 Million Pro Bono Hours
ADF Allied Attorneys report their 1 millionth pro bono hour defending religious freedom across the world.
First Summit on Religious Liberty
Tim Chandler
One of our flagship training programs, the ADF Summit on Religious Liberty brings together a remarkable group of leaders in law, public policy, media, business, education, and ministry to collaborate on legal and cultural strategies to protect religious liberty around the globe.
2 Key Victories
Holt v. Hobbs
In an ADF-backed case, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that an Arkansas prison policy that prevents a prisoner from growing a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs violates RLUIPA.
Reed v. Town of Gilbert
The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Town of Gilbert’s sign code was facially unconstitutional and that it discriminated against the content of Good News Community Church’s signs when the town’s regulation allowed political, ideological, and homeowner’s association signs to be larger in size and remain up longer than the church’s temporary signs inviting others to its services. ADF represented Clyde Reed, pastor of Good News Community Church, before the Court.
5 Key Victories for Religious Freedom
Hanns at Scotus
Town of Greece v. Galloway
The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Americans are free to pray according to their own beliefs at public meetings. ADF represented Town of Greece before the Court.
SBA List v. Driehaus
In an ADF-backed case, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the freedom of Americans to speak in accordance with their views by allowing them to challenge laws that silence them.
Lane v. Franks
In another ADF-backed case, the U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that the First Amendment protects the speech of public employees outside the workplace on matters of public concern.
McCullen v. Coakley
In a case backed by ADF, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously strikes down a Massachusetts law that creates a 35-foot “buffer zone” restricting pro-life advocates from speaking with people entering abortion facilities.
Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell
The U.S. Supreme Court rules against the Obama Administration’s abortion-pill mandate in favor of two family-run businesses, Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby). ADF represented Conestoga Wood Specialties before the Court.
Advancing For Faith...For Justice
ADF Logo
By God’s amazing grace, a brand-new chapter in the 18-year history of this legal ministry begins. Alliance Defense Fund changes name to Alliance Defending Freedom. This new name and tagline more effectively communicate ADF’s mission, strengthen our efforts, and attract like-minded Allied Ministry Friends.
ADF Challenges ACLU in School Tax-Credit Case
Guitar Lessons
In ACSTO v. Winn, the U.S. Supreme Court affirms the right for parents to choose the best educational option for their children through an Arizona tuition tax credit program. This includes provision of scholarship funds to private Christian schools. The ACLU loses the right to use its “offended taxpayer” strategy to challenge such programs. ADF represented ACSTO before the Court.
Ministry Publication Launched
ADF launches its new magazine, Faith & Justice (formerly known as Truth & Triumph).

Victory in "Partial-Birth Abortion" Case
The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the federal ban on so-called “partial-birth abortions” in the ADF-backed case, Gonzales v. Carhart.
U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Religious Freedom
Supreme Court Outside
In less than a month, the Supreme Court issues unanimous decisions affirming religious freedom in four ADF-backed cases.

Key U.S. Supreme Court Victory
San Fran Court
Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow
In another ADF-backed case, the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision finding that public school recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Constitution because the pledge includes the words “under God.”
1,000th Grant Awarded
Business Team
In less than 10 years since its founding, Alliance Defending Freedom is blessed to award its 1,000th grant to help fund cases that defend religious freedom.
Creation of the Ambassador Program
Ambassador class of 2012
A select group of Ministry Friends asks to do even more for ADF through the creation of the Ambassador Program. This program provides training and resources for allies of ADF who want to share our mission with their churches and communities throughout the nation, helping to keep the door open for the Gospel everywhere.
Equal Access to School Property for Christians
Bible Study
U.S. Supreme Court rules that middle schools must provide equal access to after-school Bible clubs to meet on school property, thanks to precedent set by ADF.
Blackstone Legal Fellowship Formed
Lawyers At Table
The ADF Blackstone Legal Fellowship development program trains some of the best and brightest Christian law students from across the nation.
Legal Academy Established
Legal Academy Formed
Marking the beginning of the ADF Allied Attorney program, the first-ever ADF Legal Academy trains Christian attorneys in constitutional law so they can provide pro bono, dedicated service to the Body of Christ.
2 Key Victories for Religious Liberty*
Supreme Court Doors
Two ADF-backed U.S. Supreme Court victories set legal precedents for future victories. One affirms the right for organizations to not associate with groups with whom they disagree. The second faults universities for illegally denying funding to student activities by reason of their religious convictions.
Alliance Defense Fund is launched
January 31, 1994 - Alliance Defense Fund is introduced to the nation at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Washington, D.C. with Alan Sears as president.

* Alliance Defending Freedom has played various roles in 64 U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  Those roles include representing parties directly, assisting in amicus efforts, and providing financial assistance.

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