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We Had a Great Year at the Supreme Court, But Our Work Is Not Done

Sarah Kramer
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We Had a Great Year at the Supreme Court, But Our Work Is Not Done

Last week, by God’s grace, Alliance Defending Freedom received its ninth victory in seven years at the U.S. Supreme Court. Two of those victories happened just last month.

We are humbled that God has made these victories possible, for we know that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). We are also incredibly grateful for the prayers and generous support of people like you, who make it possible for us to defend our clients free of charge at every level of our judicial system – from local commissions to our country’s highest court.

In our latest Supreme Court victories, two important principles were upheld.

1. The Supreme Court made it clear that the government cannot force people to express messages that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.

In National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of our client, NIFLA, and the pro-life pregnancy centers they represent in California.

This decision stopped a California law that forced medically licensed pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for the abortion industry. The law also forced pregnancy centers that are not medically licensed to include a disclaimer in their advertising stating that they are not a medical facility in the same size font as the advertising message in up to 13 different languages. That completely drowned out the message these centers were hoping to communicate in their advertising.

Regardless of your views on abortion, this decision upholding free speech is one that we should all be able to celebrate.

2. The Supreme Court made it clear that government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of our client Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips.

Jack has been involved in this lawsuit since 2012, when two men walked into his shop and requested that Jack create a custom cake celebrating their same-sex wedding. Jack politely declined, offering to sell them anything else in his shop or design them a cake for a different event. Jack serves everyone that walks into his shop – he simply cannot use his artistic talents to celebrate every event or express every message.

But that wasn’t enough for the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which ruled against him. As a result, Jack lost 40 percent of his business and over half of his staff. He was forced to “reeducate” his employees and file quarterly reports with the government listing what custom cake designs he declines to create. 

Thankfully, this decision establishes that the millions of people who share Jack’s beliefs are not second-class citizens, but that they too belong as part of the community.

These are critical victories, as are the other wins that God has blessed us with in the past seven years. Last year, the Supreme Court made it clear that the government cannot treat churches as second-class citizens (Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer). A few years ago, it ruled that the government can’t treat political speech better than religious speech must treat all speech in a content-neutral manner—that government can’t treat political speech better than religious speech (Reed v. Town of Gilbert). And it upheld the freedom of all Americans to pray according to their own beliefs at public meetings (Town of Greece v. Galloway), to name just a few.

Supreme Court victories set important legal precedent that will affect religious freedom for generations to come.

At this point, it can be tempting to sit back. But we must stay alert.

We know that challenges to religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family will not stop. And in the coming months, we have many opportunities to continue defending courageous people who are walking in obedience to God’s call and standing for the rights of all Americans.

  • Floral artist Barronelle Stutzman’s case was sent back to the Washington Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, and she will continue to stand for the freedom to celebrate the events and express the messages that are consistent with her beliefs.
  • Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of the art studio Brush & Nib, will be asking the Arizona Supreme Court to protect their right not to be forced to create art that conflicts with their beliefs under threat of jail time and burdensome fines.
  • Promotional printer Blaine Adamson will go before the Kentucky Supreme Court to defend his freedom to decline to print messages that conflict with his faith.
  • A federal district court ruled in favor of former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, but his case is not over. A jury trial will determine what damages the city owes him after he was wrongfully fired.

Even as we look toward the coming challenges, we have hope for the future. And we are excited to see what God has in store.

Moving forward, would you join us in praying for these clients and their attorneys who are defending religious freedom? This past month is evidence that your prayers and support make a real difference in people’s lives. And for that, we can’t thank you enough.

Sarah Kramer
Sarah Kramer
Digital Content Specialist
Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.