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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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Dec 9, 2019

The City Council of Cleveland, Ohio desires to reinstitute the practice of legislative prayer before its meetings. As legislative prayer is a long-standing and constitutional practice upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court—and even the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Cleveland Councilmembers should not fear legal retribution for reincorporating it into their meetings. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


Legislative prayer is as old as the United States. In fact, offering a prayer before a public meeting should be one of the least questionable topics of our day. 

That is why some on Ohio’s Cleveland City Council would like to bring the practice back to its meetings.  Thankfully, the law supports them if they do.

Not only has the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the practice of legislative prayer—twice—the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has even said that the lawmakers themselves can lead such invocations. 

That’s partly why we litigated The American Legion v. AHA where Justice Samuel Alito agreed with our understanding of the First Amendment and noted that “religiously expressive” practices, such as legislative prayer, that have long been a part of our nation’s history and heritage, bear “a strong presumption of constitutionality.”  Just a few weeks later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Fields v. Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives noted that presumption of constitutionality extends to legislative prayers.

As we recently explained in a letter sent to the Councilmembers, the Cleveland City Council is on solid legal ground to restart its practice of legislative prayers. Extending that level of freedom to all Americans, whether they are private citizens or elected officials, reflects the very best of the American brand of freedom.

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

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