In the Courts

The nation’s longest-serving Christian advocacy ministry for religious freedom, the Center for Law & Religious Freedom, defends and advances our inalienable rights to religious freedom and life through the judicial system. The Center fights for First Amendment rights at all levels of the American judicial system, including the Supreme Court. The Center advocates to secure religious freedom for Americans of all faiths whose religious freedom and freedom of speech have been threatened. The Center targets potentially influential cases and taps leading law professors and practitioners to assist Center staff in preparing briefs to protect religious freedom and human life.

Child Evangelism Fellowship of Maryland and Anne Arundel County

In 2019, Anne Arundel County informed Maryland CEF that its continued access to public school facilities would require payment of exorbitant fees. On January 22, CLS sent a letter to AACPS and Anne Arundel Recreation and Parks informing them that providing access to religious organizations on less favorable terms than similarly situated organizations violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Within days of the letter, Maryland CEF regained access to one school in Anne Arundel County. CLS continues to push for full restoration for Maryland CEF.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes and San Jose Unified School District

High School students in the San Jose Unified School District have met for years to as student chapters of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).  After a teacher and several students within the district expressed disapproval of FCA, district officials withdrew recognition of the student FCA groups.  Furthermore, the district has allowed, and in some cases facilitated, a campaign of harassment against FCA students by allowing students and faculty to gather immediately outside of FCA meetings to malign students’ religious beliefs. 

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Human Rights Commission

In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Jack Phillips is a Christian cake artist who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop outside Denver, Colorado. In 2012, a same-sex couple asked Jack to bake a cake for their wedding celebration. Phillips regularly serves LGBT customers but could not help celebrate a wedding that violated his religious beliefs. In the past, Jack had refused to create cakes for other events that violated his religious conscience, including celebrations of divorce.

Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore

The City of Baltimore mandates a disclaimer within the waiting room of a “limited-service pregnancy center,” stating that the center “does not provide or make referral for abortion or birth-control services.” The Center filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit in support of the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns’ freedom of speech not to be compelled to speak about abortion and birth control, in terms dictated by the government, in the waiting area where it provides religiously motivated counseling and other assistance to pregnant women.

Judge Neely v. Wyoming Judicial Conduct & Ethics Commission

In August 2017, the Center filed an amicus brief urging the United States Supreme Court to hear the appeal of Judge Ruth Neely, who was censured by the Wyoming Supreme Court because her religious beliefs do not allow her to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. With its ruling, the Wyoming Supreme Court effectively creates a religious test for persons seeking to hold the office of magistrate. Its ruling sends a chilling message to attorneys and law students that they should not aspire to hold judicial office if their religious conscience prohibits them from performing a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Zarda v. Altitude Express

The Second Circuit granted rehearing en banc after a panel of three judges ruled that Title VII’s prohibition on “sex discrimination” does not encompass “sexual orientation discrimination.”

Xue v. Sessions

Ting Xue, a native and citizen of China, arrived in the United States after fleeing from government persecution for practicing his Christian faith in China. He applied for asylum but was denied. He has petitioned the Supreme Court to remain in the United States. The Center filed an amicus brief in support of his petition, arguing that the court below was wrong to rule that, although he had previously been jailed for worshipping at a house church not approved by the Chinese government, Xue did not have a reasonable fear of religious persecution if he were forced to return to China.