Info

First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, once a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
2019
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June


All Episodes
Archives
Now displaying: July, 2019
Jul 29, 2019

Federal policy states that their research and education grants must comply with all Federal law, regulations, and policies. Yale is receiving federal grants, so their discrimination of religion is violating federal policy. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


When a student group demanded that Yale Law School end financial assistance to students choosing to intern or work for faith-based organizations, Yale complied.  Now, they’re under investigation.

Yale University’s endowment is $29.4 billion. Yet, it receives in excess of $480millionin federal grants and contracts.  As a private institution, Yale is entitled to discriminate on the basis of religion; however, under federal policy, federal contractors and grant recipients are not.

Now, Senator Ted Cruz, chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, has opened an investigation.  The question is whether Yale’s new policy runs afoul of President Trump’s Executive Order designed to improve “Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities.

According to the EO, the various federal agencies administering grants and contracts to the nation’s top institutions of higher learning are to, “take appropriate steps . . . to ensure institutions that receive Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry, including through compliance with all applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.”

Yale Law School’s policy of “no stipends for religious work” violates this policy.  Taxpayers should not subsidize that decision with a half billiondollars in aid.  Religious organizations provide tremendous value to the citizens of this country.  Yale’s policy treats them as a scourge. 

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

Jul 22, 2019

The San Antonio City Council promises no discrimination, however they removed Chick-fil-A from the airport for being closed on Sundays. The city cannot violate the First Amendment that protects citizens from religious discrimination. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


You probably know by now that the City Council of San Antonio, Texas decided to remove Chick-fil-A from its airport.  That is, as a part of a multi-million dollar renovation of the airport, Chick-fil-A had won the bid to have a store.

But, the city council decided that, because its owners gave money to organizations like the Salvation Army, Chick-fil-A could no longer be a part of their airport. 

Of course, the mayor denies that there was any religious discrimination involved.  Instead, he blamed it on the fact that Chick-fil-A—which makes more per store than Subway, Starbucks, and McDonald’s combined—is closed on Sunday. 

First Liberty Institute sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation asking for an investigation into San Antonio’s decision.  Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that they have opened the investigation we asked for, looking into whether San Antonio’s actions violate promises of nondiscrimination they made in seeking millions of dollars in federal grants for the airport renovation.

The San Antonio City Council may spend its taxpayer dollars as its citizens will tolerate. However, it cannot do so in a way that brazenly violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Federal law. After all, federal taxpayers should not be required to subsidize bigotry against religion. 

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

Jul 15, 2019

The HOA told the Morris Family they were not able to display their Christmas decorations on the basis of religion. This violates the Fair Housing Act which ensures no religious discrimination. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


Jeremy Morris likes to decorate for Christmas. Actually, that’s underselling it by quite a bit.  Jeremy Morris, and his wife Kristy, decorate nearly every inch of their home with Christmas lights. 

The display in northern Idaho became such a hit at Christmas time, they decided to make it a community event.  When folks would stop by to see the display, they would invite them onto their driveway for hot chocolate, a picture with Santa, and even an opportunity to share with them the Biblical story of Christmas.

When the Morris’s decided to move into a new neighborhood, they looked at the homeowner’s association’s covenants and didn’t see any problem with the display.  Still, wanting to be good neighbors, they gave the HOA a heads up. That’s when things took a turn.

The HOA explained in a letter that “some of our residents are non-Christians or of another faith,” noting that they were concerned for the “problems that could bring up.” 

So, on the basis of religion, they told them they could not decorate their house at Christmas—even though houses in the neighborhood are decorated for Halloween. 

So, Jeremy filed a lawsuit and a jury determined that the HOA violated the Fair Housing Act, engaging in religious discrimination.  But, soon after, a federal judge overruled the jury’s verdict!

First Liberty has taken on the appeal, hoping to restore the jury’s verdict.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

Jul 8, 2019

The United States national motto was declared by Congress as “In God We Trust”. This motto promotes patriotism and references the country’s religious heritage and is protected under the law. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


The State of Mississippi has a new license plate, but not everyone is happy about it.  To understand why, you need a little background.

In 1956, the U.S Congress declared “In God We Trust” to be the national motto.  Since then, the Supreme Court of the United States has routinely acknowledged the important, very constitutional, place phrases like, “In God We Trust” have played in the history and heritage of our country. In fact, the Supreme Court has consistently indicated that the national motto plainly does not advance religion, it serves a secular purpose of promoting patriotism, and is simply a reference to our religious heritage.

So, now back to Mississippi’s license plates which have been redesigned to feature in the background the national motto. Someone with an axe to grind about the appearance of the letters “G,” “O,” and “D” in succession and in public sent a letter to the state’s revenue commissioner claiming the new design violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Well, First Liberty sent its own letter.  Not only did we explain that the license plates featuring the national motto is perfectly acceptable under the law, we offered to represent the state—for free—should anyone be foolish enough to actually file a lawsuit over it.

Hopefully no lawsuit comes and our services won’t be needed, but Mississippi is safe to include the national motto on its license plates.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

Jul 1, 2019

Activists insist that elected officials praying in public violates the Establishment Clause. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that all elected officials are allowed to pray if they please before public meetings. Learn more at Firstliberty.org/Briefing.


It’s easy to misunderstand the law when it’s confusing, but not when there are multiple decisions on the topic.

In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that a paid legislative chaplain is perfectly permissible under the constitution. Then, in 2014, in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the court said those prayers could even be sectarian without violating the Establishment Clause.

But, still activists question the practice. In Mt. Sterling, Ohio, village councilmembers want to start their meetings with prayer.  But, activists insist that might be “chipping away at the Establishment Clause.”

That’s hard to imagine, given that not only has the U.S. Supreme Court twice said that legislative prayers do not violate the Establishment Clause, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said in the 2017 decision Bormuth v. County of Jackson that those sectarian prayers can be offered by the lawmakers themselves! 

As Judge Sutton wrote, concurring in the en banc decision of the Sixth Circuit, “the United States Constitution does not tell federal judges to hover over each town hall meeting in the country like a helicopter parent, scolding/revising/okaying the content of this legislative prayer or that one.”

First Liberty Institute represented the County of Jackson in that case because we believe that all Americans—even elected officials—should be free to pray (or not) before public meetings and according to their own conscience.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

1