In the Courts

The Center actively fights for First Amendment rights at all levels of the American judicial system, including the Supeme Court. Based on the recommendations of a committee of First Amendment experts, the Center targets potentially influential cases and taps leading law professors and practitioners to assist Center staff in writing briefs and arguing cases to protect religious freedom.

In the Supreme Court

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez:The Center represented a religious student group that was penalized by a public law school for requiringthe group’s leaders to agree with its religious beliefs.Summary and Related Documents

Bender v. Williamsport Area School District:The Center represented a group of religious students who were denied the right to meet for prayer and Bible study even though other student groups met on campus. The case became the basis for the federal Equal Access Act.

Garnett v. Renton School District: The Center represented a religious student group who wanted to meet under the federal Equal Access Act for prayer and Bible study at their high school.

Friend-of-the-court briefs: Since 1980, the Center has filed friend-of-the-court briefs in nearly every significant religious freedom case before the Supreme Court, including (click on name for pdf copy of the brief): Good News Club v. Milford (2001), Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (2005), Stormans v. Selecky (2008), Bronx v. Board of Education (2008), Truth v. Kent (2009), Winn v. Garriott (2010), Sossamon v. Texas (2010), and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC (2011).

In Courts of Appeals

Christian Legal Society v. Walker (7th Cir.): The Center represented a religious student group after a university said the group violated its nondiscrimination policy because it required its leaders to agree with its religious beliefs. The court ruled in favor of the religious student group.

California v. United States (9th Cir.): California challenged as unconstitutional a federal law passed to protect doctors and nurses from forced participation in abortions.The Center intervened on behalf of a group of Christian doctors and other pro-life medical associations. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the Center that the federal law’s protection for pro-life healthcare workers was constitutional.

National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association v. Gonzales (D.C. Cir.): A pro-abortion group attacked a federal law protecting medical professionals from forced participation in abortions. The Center intervened on behalf of pro-life medical associations.The federal appellate court ruled that the pro-abortion group could not challenge the law.

Colorado Christian University v. Weaver (10th Cir.): The Center represented a Christian university in challenging state laws that excluded its students from a scholarship program because the state deemed the college to be too religious. The Tenth Circuit struck down the laws as unconstitutional.

Child Evangelism Fellowship of New Jersey v. Stafford Township School District (3rd Cir.): A public school district refused to distribute fliers to parents about a religious after-school program that taught children about God, even though fliers for nonreligious community groups frequently were sent home to parents. The Center sued on behalf of the Child Evangelism Fellowship chapter and won.

DeBoerv. Village of Oak Park (7th Cir.): To observe the National Day of Prayer, a religious community group asked to meet in the town hall on the same basis as other civic groups. The town denied the request because their speech was religious. After a lengthy court fight, the Center won the group’s right to observe the National Day of Prayer.

Spencer v. World Vision (9th Cir.)

Other Cases of Interest

Cordova v. Laliberte (Boise State University)

Christian Legal Society v. Russell (University of Montana School of Law)

Connecticut v. United States (consolidated with Planned Parenthood v. Leavitt and NFPRHA v. Leavitt)