In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court earlier this week affirmed Coach Kennedy’s right to silently pray in public after high school football games in Kennedy v. Bremerton School Board.
For years, Kennedy would pray very briefly by himself following football games. At one point, students became curious about what he was doing. When asked if they could join, he told them it was a free country, and they could do what they wanted. As time went on, more and more students and even coaches from other teams joined in.
After nearly half the team began to participate in these short prayers, the school told him he could no longer pray publicly. Kennedy initially obeyed the order, but later believed it violated his freedoms of speech and religion. He felt responsible to thank God for the games in that way. So, he continued to pray; and as a result, lost his job.
WFA signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in order to support Coach Kennedy and urge the court to protect religious freedom. The brief argued that the First Amendment was expressly written to protect our right to exercise our religion in just such situations as Coach Kennedy did.
Thankfully, the high court upheld Coach K’s right to freely live out his faith in public.
“The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch in the 6-3 majority opinion, adding that the Constitution “neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.”
The court rejected the school district’s argument that the coach’s prayers were “coercive” of the players. The decision also corrects the widespread misconception that religious speech and actions must be suppressed to avoid the First Amendment’s ban on the “establishment of religion.”
“Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s,” Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion. “Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor. The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”
As the high court claims, our constitution does not require us to abandon our religious traditions and the Establishment Clause does not require schools to fire a coach like Joseph Kennedy.
“Today, the Supreme Court reaffirmed a long-standing principle, correctly ruling that teachers and other school employees do not surrender their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate,” Sarah Parshall Perry, a senior legal fellow for The Heritage Foundation, said in a statement.
This is a monumental victory for religious freedom throughout the United States. It serves to protect teachers who bow their heads to give thanks during lunch in the cafeteria, or school employees who wear a cross or religious symbol, as the opinion specifically mentions.
It will not only help preserve a free and diverse society, but also uphold human dignity, which is inseparable from the freedom to express one’s deeply held beliefs.
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We are still waiting for the Supreme Court to release its final decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which could overturn Roe v. Wade.
We expect to receive the decision no later than next Wednesday, unless the court decides to wait until after the July 4th holiday, which has been speculated.
Tensions are high. Over 35,000 people were on SCOTUSBlog Thursday morning! That number will grow now that we are down to just nine cases left to be released before the end of the court’s session, one of which is Dobbs.
Please pray for this case and for the safety of our justices. After the Dobbs draft leaked, revealing that the court is poised to overturn Roe, the left erupted in violence. They attacked our office and several other pro-life organizations. Domestic terrorist group Jane’s Revenge has declared “open season” on pro-life groups that refuse to back down.
The left has also protested outside of the justices’ homes in order to intimidate them into submission. One individual even traveled across the country to Justice Kavanaugh’s home with the intent of assassinating him. We expect this violence to only increase in the aftermath of Roe.
In the coming days, “Watch for the revelation of the spirit of murder that fuels the fires of abortion. And then remember: these arsonists and protesters and terrorists are doing this because they can no longer terminate the life of their child in the womb. They are furious and violent because they cannot do violence to their own flesh and blood. What kind of madness is this?” writes Dr. Michael Brown.
We will clearly see, as we have already, which side is influenced by the spirit of life and which group is motivated by the spirit of death. Only one side espouses compassion and care while the other espouses violence.
While the left responds in anger, our response must always be love. We should never resort to threats and intimidation, but show respect for every individual by appealing to reason and working to transform hearts and minds.
Debates surrounding this issue will become more intense, and we need to be equipped with the facts and prepared to defend the sanctity of life at all times.
Think about what you can do to help create a culture of life in Wisconsin in a post-Roe world. We need to practice radical love and compassion toward expecting mothers who are in difficult situations. We must also speak the truth in love about the unborn and create a culture of deep care for all life.
Once Roe is overturned, there will still be much work to be done. Through intentional discipleship, we need to undo the culture of death that Roe fostered.
We have 5000 copies of “Thinking Clearly After Roe: A Five-Part Strategy Moving Forward,” which we will make available to folks at no charge. Contact us to receive your copy!
Please pray that God continues to guide and strengthen the pro-life movement regardless of what the Dobbs decision brings.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major win in Carson v. Makin in a ruling that says the state of Maine cannot bar parents from using state funds to send their children to a religious school.
In 2018, parents sued Maine after it banned families from sending their children to private schools using state tuition assistance.
In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that “a neutral benefit program in which public funds flow to religious organizations through the independent choices of private benefit recipients does not offend the Establishment Clause.”
The high court’s decision reverses the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
This is excellent news for school choice and religious liberty throughout the country. Parents should never be prevented from directing their children’s education and sending them to whichever school best suits their needs.
School choice is really educational freedom and is a parent’s right and should not be determined by the state. Every child is different, and we should let parents, who know their children best, decide where to send them to school.
Wisconsin is currently a national leader in school choice. Parents can choose the public school in the district where they live, or they can opt for open enrollment and enroll in a school in a different district, with some exceptions. Charter schools and virtual charter schools are also included under the public-school umbrella.
Wisconsin also offers the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the Racine Parental Choice Program, and the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program—all of which are part of the “voucher school” option. These programs allow income-qualified families to send their children to private schools participating in Choice (voucher) Programs. Parents can apply to be part of a school choice program.
This voucher program, which was first-in-the-nation, years ago went to the WI Supreme Court over allowing religious schools and received a favorable decision. At the time of the court case, only the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was in place.
The decision to expand the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to include private religious schools “places on equal footing options of public and private school choice and vests power in the hands of parents to choose where to direct the funds allocated for their children’s benefit,” wrote Justice Donald Steinmetz in the majority opinion.
Wisconsin also has some of the best homeschooling laws in the country. Parents are encouraged to homeschool and are not burdened by overbearing restrictions as they are in some states.
While Wisconsin is leading the nation in educational opportunities, we have more to do. We need universal choice in Wisconsin. Incomes and zip codes should not determine who gets to take advantage of our educational options. However, our current governor is no fan of school choice.
We are currently in an election cycle, and this fall we have the opportunity to hold Gov. Evers accountable and elect leaders who will uphold parents’ right to school choice.
Earlier this week, Politico dropped a bombshell by publishing a leaked draft of an early decision in the Dobbs Supreme Court case.
In an opinion dated February 10, 2022, Justice Alito writes, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.” Boom! With those nine words, the liberals’ became unhinged in our state and across the country.
Unsurprisingly, Wisconsin Democrats expressed their outrage and made egregious demands in response.
Gov. Tony Evers announced on Twitter that he is urging Congress to take action to combat the Court’s potential decision. “Today, I’m leading a coalition of 17 governors to call on Congress to immediately protect access to abortion and reproductive rights. We cannot wait for #SCOTUS to overturn #RoeVWade. We need action now, and we need to pass the #WHPA,” he tweeted.
WHPA is the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act.” Of course, abortion is not health care for either women or their unborn babies.
Once again, Evers is ignoring the will of the Wisconsin people. He is removing power from voters in order to perpetuate the most violent and evil human rights violation of our lifetime.
Wisconsin Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, a Democrat who is running for US Senate this cycle, released a similar statement, saying, “It has never been more clear why we need to abolish the [US Senate]filibuster and take immediate action to protect every person’s right to make decisions about their own bodies. Republicans have proven they will stop at nothing to strip every individual of their right to an abortion. We must act now.”
Both of these supposed “leaders” erroneously deem abortion a “right.” And Barnes isn’t even willing to use the word woman. Instead, he refers to “every person’s right” and “every individual of their right to an abortion.”
Topping all this off, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul blatantly said this week if Roe is overturned, that “[a]s long as [he’s] attorney general, we will not be using any resources” to enforce Wisconsin’s pre-Roe law that criminalizes most abortions—a law we have successfully kept on the books since 1849. Kaul, a Democrat, is up for re-election this fall. Enforcing and upholding Wisconsin law is the main job of our attorney general.
The left is denying reality in a number of ways. While refusing to properly define a woman, they fail to recognize that murder is objectively evil and that the right to life is the only right that exists in this case. Simply calling something a right does not make it one, and no one has the right to kill an innocent child.
President Biden also joined the conversation and further revealed the moral depravity of the left: “So, the idea that we’re going to make a judgment that is going to say that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child based on a decision by the Supreme Court … goes way overboard,” said Biden during a press conference about the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade. (Emphasis added.)
Probably without realizing it, Biden admits in his statement that abortion ends the life of a child, yet he is still in favor of it. It seems the task at hand now is no longer to convince the left that children in the womb are in fact children, but that murder of innocent life is always wrong. This is what happens when we remove God, the only source of objective truth and morality, from our culture.
We need leaders who will honor their commitment to serving their constituents. It’s clear that Evers, Barnes, and Biden are far more concerned with their own ideologies and pacifying their base than respecting traditional legal processes or the will of the people, not to mention respecting the lives of unborn children.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, control over abortion laws will simply return to the states, giving the people a greater voice. If our leaders truly cared about our constitutional republic and the principles of federalism, they would support the overturning of Roe.
This fall we have an opportunity to have a say in Wisconsin about what kind of leadership we have in our governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Will we replace the current pro-abortion office holders with pro-life, pro-women individuals? That’s up to us and our willingness to get involved in really meaningful ways – that includes voting, but also going beyond our personal vote to engage many others.
The Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, who is now our governor, refused to grant an independent Catholic school transportation benefits unless it agreed to not call itself “Catholic.” Now the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) is requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court review the case to determine whether the superintendent violated the First Amendment.
Wisconsin provides funding to private schools as long as there is not overlapping attendance between multiple private schools that are affiliated with the same sponsor. The Department of Public Instruction denied students at St. Augustine transportation because there is another Catholic school in the area. St. Augustine, however, is independent and not affiliated with Archdiocese, rendering Evers’ decision unlawful.
WILL previously won a lawsuit when an appeal court ruled that Tony Evers did break the law. However, the court did not address the constitutional question regarding religious liberty.
It’s clear that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment prohibits Evers from giving St. Augustine school this ultimatum.
“The critical constitutional questions at the heart of this case remain unresolved,” said Anthony LoCoco, deputy counsel for WILL. “Government bureaucrats cannot withhold a benefit by imposing their own religious definitions on institutions like St. Augustine School.”
Government officials have been hostile toward private and religious schools in Wisconsin and refused transportation funding for years, suggesting that their discrimination is intentional.
“I do think one takeaway from this case is just how far government officials are willing to go in fights against parents and families in private schools. We’ve been at this now for six years, and we’ve been to the Supreme Court twice now, and they’re still unwilling to pay this transportation aid,” LoCoco continued. “The ordinary Wisconsin family cannot afford six years of litigation just to get their kids to school.”
The court’s decision will impact not just Catholics, but people of all faith backgrounds. Any institution that identifies with a religion could be denied funding or discriminated against if the court sides with Evers’ decision. If institutions must decide between professing their faith and receiving funding to keep their operations running, they do not truly have religious liberty.
Every institution and every individual must be free to express their faith and identify with a religion, without contingencies. This is the very principle that our country was founded on. “The constitutional freedom of religion is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights,” wrote Thomas Jefferson.
Any effort to repress this freedom is an attack on the very foundation of America.
Further, any refusal to allow religious liberty is also an attack on human dignity. Our ability to contemplate the transcendent, search for Truth, and profess our faith is bound to our humanity.
Join Wisconsin Family Action in prayer that the US Supreme Court establishes justice and protects human dignity by upholding religious liberty in Wisconsin, and use your voice to talk to your neighbors about this continued assault on religious freedom right here in our own backyards.
National Religious Freedom Day is this Sunday, January 16th. This day was established to celebrate our ability to freely exercise our religious liberty since our country’s inception. Unfortunately, this freedom is now under attack in America, even from our own government. Between tyrannical vaccine mandates and other discriminatory practices, our rights have been severely compromised. We are hopeful, however, that the US Supreme Court will make sound decisions in a couple of critical religious freedom cases.
Ironically, just two days after National Religious Freedom Day, on January 18, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Shurtleff v. Boston. The question at hand is whether the City of Boston violated a Christian organization’s right to free speech by disallowing Camp Constitution to temporarily raise its flag on the City Hall flagpoles. The City had previously allowed private organizations to raise 284 flags. The Commissioner of Boston’s Property Management Department claimed that the City’s policy was to avoid flying religious flags in adherence to the First Amendment’s prohibition of government-established religion. Religious freedom, however, was never meant to be interpreted as shielding the public from any mention of religion.
Generally, the government is supposed to be viewpoint neutral, which means if the flag represents the speech of Camp Constitution, then the Camp and religious freedom should prevail. If the court determines that the flags on the flagpole represent the City of Boston’s speech, then the outcome may be different. We are hopeful the Court will recognize and uphold Camp Constitution’s right to free speech.
Wisconsin Family Action is actively fighting for religious liberty. Just last week, we signed onto an amicus brief filed to the US Supreme Court with regard to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) nationwide vaccine mandate. The brief states that unelected administrative agencies such as OSHA tend to neglect religious freedom by viewing it as “an afterthought, an inconvenience that stands in the way of their desired policy.” Religious liberty is foundational to our nation – not an afterthought.
Further, the brief notes that OSHA bypassed the traditional lawmaking process through state legislatures. Unaccountable government agencies circumvent legislatures too often, as OSHA has done here. Ultimately, OSHA’s mandate causes “indirect coercion [that] contradicts fundamental religious autonomy principles.” The Court heard oral arguments for this case this past Friday, January 7th, and we are now awaiting their decision.
Religious freedom must be non-negotiable. This right is a bedrock of our country and a necessity for human flourishing. On Religious Freedom Sunday, let’s pray for the preservation of this essential right in the United States. Putting our prayer and faith to action, we must also continue doing everything we can in the culture and in every level of government to stand up, show up, and speak up for our “First Freedom.”
Though marriage hangs in the balance in
America’s highest court, we have reason to hope!
Your gift now will protect your family AND religious freedom
- Marriage by Design, Alliance Defending Freedom, 2015 – “The #1 action for churches and faith-based ministries to take now that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether same-sex marriage is required by the constitution.”
- Suggested Language for Church By-Laws, Alliance Defending Freedom, 2015 – “Suggestions to strengthen the by-laws of a church to ensure the broadest possible protections of church autonomy.”
MADISON – This morning the US Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in four cases related to the definition of marriage. The now-consolidated cases come from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, covering Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The high court decided to hear these cases after the 6th Circuit became the first circuit court in the country ruling that states do have the right to determine for themselves what marriage will be and have a compelling interest to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. Read more…
MADISON – Today the US Supreme Court announced it will take up marriage cases on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. That circuit covers Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Unlike the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that determined that Wisconsin’s marriage amendment is unconstitutional, the 6th Circuit ruled that states do indeed have the right to determine for themselves what marriage will be.
Read full release here.
2014|October 6 – MADISON, WI -Wisconsin Family Action Reacts to US Supreme Court Denying Wisconsin’s Marriage Case