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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.
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May 13, 2019

Jack Phillips’ case may be over but the Supreme Court has the opportunity to make a lasting impact through the case of ‘Sweetcakes by Melissa.” Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


Jack Phillips’ long ordeal appears to be over.  But, as Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority in Jack’s case, “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts.” 

That includes First Liberty’s clients, Aaron and Melissa Klein.

The State of Oregon shut down Aaron and Melissa Klein’s “Sweetcakes by Melissa,” penalizing them $135,000 for the simple act of declining to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony. Oregon rests all of its actions on a law that theoretically applies generally to everyone and, on its face, treats religious exercise neutrally. 

That position is grounded in the 1990 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court called Employment Division v. Smith.  The product of the late-Justice Antonin Scalia, the majority opinion in Employment Division has been roundly criticized through the years. 

The danger of Employment Divisionis that it allows laws that doburden one of the key provisions of the First Amendment—namely, the free exercise of religion—to escape meaningful judicial review. Aaron and Melissa’s case provides the Court an opportunity to correct that.

Jack Phillips’ case left American business owners wondering whether the government can prescribe what they believe and force them to confess accordingly.  The Constitution prohibits government officials, high or petty, from compelling small business owners to create a message contrary to their religious beliefs. 

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

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