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Government Claims First Amendment Protects Only The “Right To Choose A Religion”

DENVER, March 21, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit heard oral arguments in a case filed by Ms. Mary Anne Sause, a Catholic former nurse who was ordered by police officers to stop praying in her own home.

In court briefings, government attorneys defended the police officers’ actions by arguing that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause only “protects an individual’s right to choose a religion.”

Attorneys for First Liberty Institute, a national religious freedom law firm representing Ms. Sause, say the government’s argument could set a dangerous precedent for how the First Amendment protects religious freedom.

“The Free Exercise Clause protects an individual’s right to do exactly that – to freely exercise his or her faith,” Stephanie Taub, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The government’s attempt to redefine the First Amendment through this case could set a dangerous precedent for religious freedom.”

The case, Mary Anne Sause v. Timothy J. Bauer, et al., was heard before a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit. Bradley G. Hubbard, Associate with Gibson Dunn, argued the case as co-counsel with First Liberty Institute.

“Prayer is essential to my faith and everyday life,” Ms. Sause said following the arguments. “Not a day goes by when I don’t pray. It is concerning to see the government claim the First Amendment protects my right to choose my religion, but not my right to pray in the privacy of my own home.”

“The First Amendment guarantees the right for all Americans to freely exercise their faith,” Taub says. “First Liberty Institute is committed to defending that freedom for every American.”

Read more about the case and view legal documents at FirstLiberty.org/Sause

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High School Football Coach Files Lawsuit Against School District That Fired Him For Praying

BREMERTON, Wash., Aug. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —  Today, former high school football coach Joe Kennedy filed a lawsuit against Bremerton School District (BSD) after the school district terminated him for offering a brief, quiet prayer at the fifty-yard line after high school football games.

Read the lawsuit at CoachKennedyFacts.com.

In the lawsuit, Coach Kennedy’s attorneys said, “Bremerton School District’s actions violate Coach Kennedy’s First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise, as well as his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.” In the complaint, Coach Kennedy declined to seek monetary damages and instead simply requested that the school reinstate him so he can continue coaching the kids.

“When the school district fired me, I was devastated,” Coach Kennedy says. “I really hope that the school district will give me my job back so I can get back to doing what I love most: coaching my players.”

Coach Kennedy is represented by the national non-profit law firm First Liberty Institute, as well as Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Oldfield & Helsdon, PLLC, and attorney Anthony J. Ferate.

“Citizens who work for government are not banned from praying. That’s not the law. That’s religious hostility and discrimination,” Mike Berry, Senior Counsel at First Liberty Institute, says. “All we are asking is for Coach Kennedy to be reinstated and for the school to allow him to continue to pray alone at the fifty-yard line after the game.”

“The First Amendment guarantees Coach Kennedy’s rights to free speech and free exercise of his religion,” Rebekah Ricketts, attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, says. “We fully expect those constitutional rights to be vindicated when Coach Kennedy gets his day in court.”

“As a student at Bremerton High School, I was taught the importance of Constitutional Rights; the school district, by act, has specifically devalued Coach Kennedy’s,” attorney and Bremerton High School alumni Anthony J. Ferate added. “It’s time for Coach to be allowed to get back to serving as a positive role model to students in Bremerton.”

Coach Kennedy filed a charge of religious discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Bremerton School District in December. On June 27, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a right-to-sue letter to Coach Kennedy.

Read more and view legal documents at CoachKennedyFacts.com

About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.