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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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Aug 27, 2018

After Mary Ann Sause’s handwritten complaint was rejected, First Liberty Institute took her case and battled it out at the United States Supreme Court. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


The facts of Mary Anne Sause’s case are almost unbelievable.  When the police visited her federally subsidized home one night investigating a noise complaint, they were clearly irritated. 

Their harassment and threats were so harsh that she feared she would be taken to jail.  That’s why she asked if she could pray silently while they finished their paperwork.  When an officer returning to the apartment noticed her on her knees, he ordered her to stop—which would’ve probably been fine if the officer continued asking questions necessary to a police investigation.  But, he didn’t.  Instead, he continued to mock her and suggest not too subtly that she should move away from their small Kansas town.

Mary Anne felt abused.  So abused that she went to the library to research how to file a federal lawsuit.  With a paper and pen, she handwrote a complaint that a federal judge later dismissed. First Liberty took on her appeal and, what started as a hand written complaint, ended at the Supreme Court of the United States.

In a per curiam decision, the court granted Mary Anne’s appeal, vacated the decisions below, and remanded the case to the lower courts.  As the justices explained in their opinion, “There can be no doubt that the First Amendment protects the right to pray . . . Prayer unquestionably constitutes the ‘exercise’ of religion.”

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

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