The road to the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t been without its obstacles for Amy Coney Barrett.
Members of the U.S. Senate have questioned whether her Catholic faith disqualifies her from the bench, accused her of the “the dogma [living] loudly within [her],” and attacked her participation in a training program for Christian law students.
Despite all of that, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed yesterday as the newest U.S. Supreme Court justice, replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“On behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom, I want to congratulate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court and only the fifth female justice to serve on that bench,” ADF President and CEO Michael P. Farris said. “We are hopeful that she with other justices will uphold Americans’ fundamental freedoms, including free speech, religious freedom, parental rights, and the right to life from conception to natural death.”
As it so happens, Justice Barrett and the eight other justices will have the opportunity to do just that in the current term.
What’s the Story
In early 2021, ADF will be arguing before the Court on behalf of Chike Uzuegbunam, a former Georgia Gwinnett College student who was kept from sharing his faith with his fellow students—twice.
In the summer of 2016, Chike was standing outside on campus, handing out pamphlets, and talking about his faith to interested students as they passed by. Soon after he started, however, a campus official approached Chike. In order to exercise his free speech rights in that way, the official told him, he would have to get advance permission and reserve one of the campus “speech zones”—two tiny areas of campus that were only open 18 hours a week.
Still, Chike respectfully complied.
But when Chike started sharing the Gospel in the speech zone during his reserved time, two campus police officers approached and demanded his ID card, taking it back to their patrol car. When they returned, they ordered him to stop speaking and threatened him with discipline if he refused.
Chike knew this wasn’t right. So he reached out to ADF, and we filed a lawsuit against Georgia Gwinnett College on his behalf.
In response to the lawsuit, college officials argued that Chike’s speech should get no constitutional protection. They later changed their unconstitutional policies and, after Chike graduated, argued that they should be let off the hook for violating Chike’s constitutional rights. Shockingly, the district court agreed, and an appellate court did too.
But the fact remains that college officials violated Chike’s rights, silencing him not just once—but twice!
We are asking the Supreme Court to set this right.
What’s at Stake
Ultimately, government officials, such as those at Georgia Gwinnett College, shouldn’t be able to violate their students’ rights and then get a free pass.
Our constitutional rights are priceless. And when we are kept from exercising those rights, real harm is done. Just ask Chike. His faith is the most important thing to him. But he was kept from sharing that faith with others and threatened with discipline if he didn’t stay silent.
When courts don’t step in and hold government officials accountable for these types of actions, it enables the government to violate someone else’s rights in the future.
And that poses a threat to freedom for us all.
Please join us in praying that the Supreme Court will uphold free speech, hold these college officials responsible for their actions, and give Chike the justice he deserves.
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