Supreme Court keeps praying coach on the sidelines . . . for now.

The chill that such a restriction on the First Amendment would bring upon the American public is indeed frightening. A Jewish teacher might be perceived as engaged in “demonstrative” activity should students see his yarmulke. Catholic teachers whose rosary or crucifix might be visible to students could be perceived as “demonstrative.”

For that matter, under the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, in this quick-to-sue world of ours, a teacher uttering “God bless you” after a student sneezes might be accused of unlawful behavior.

More remarkable still, the justices noted that the Ninth Circuit’s opinion may extend beyond the workday. After all, part of the justification by the appellate court in approving the termination of Coach Kennedy included the fact that even after he was fired, Coach Kennedy dared to engage in prayer near students.

“The suggestion that even while off duty,” Justice Alito wrote, “a teacher or coach cannot engage in any outward manifestation of religious faith is remarkable.”

Read the entire commentary at FoxNews.com.

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Jeremiah DysComment
Against the ‘Coercive Elimination of Dissent’

Yet the Barnette court rightly rejected the Gobitis demand for national cohesion at the expense of the First Amendment. As Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote for the majority in Barnette, “to sustain the compulsory flag salute we are required to say that a Bill of Rights which guards the individual’s right to speak his own mind, left it open to public authorities to compel him to utter what is not in his mind.” Even in times of global war against aggressive fascism, Jackson explained, the First Amendment was paramount. Why? Because “those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.”

The Gobitis decision led to increased and intense persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an error that was corrected only by the decision in Barnette. And the world would soon see the devastating result of such “unanimity” on black-and-white newsreels.

Today, in their zeal to press a popular political agenda, aggressive though well-meaning government officials can do great damage to the Bill of Rights. Popular opinion may not be on the side of people like our clients, Aaron and Melissa Klein, but the Constitution protects their right to differ.

Read the entire commentary, co-authored with Michael Berry, at NationalReview.com.

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Jeremiah DysComment
In 1919, Mothers Designed a Cross to Remember 49 Veterans. Now the Supreme Court Will Decide If It’s Constitutional

If this memorial is desecrated or bulldozed to the ground, it’s only a matter of time before the wrecking ball turns on the two World War I crosses in Arlington National Cemetery and the perhaps hundreds of other memorials across the country. Such an outcome would be tragic not only for the families of those honored, but for our nation as well.

This Sunday, Nov. 11, marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice, the official end of WWI. Perhaps many Americans are unaware of what happened at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, other than to know it’s Veterans Day. Such is the case in our history-challenged culture.

But the mere fact that Americans have forgotten our history is precisely why memorials like Bladensburg must be preserved: we forget what we do not see.

Read the complete commentary at DailySignal.com.

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Jeremiah DysComment
Is a War Memorial’s Cross Illegal?

As a lowly corporal, Milton Edward Hartman’s death shouldn’t have drawn much attention. But on a summer day in 1919, it seemed as if half the town of Forestville, Md., came to his memorial service. His commanding officer attended, as did the bishop of Washington. As the Churchman periodical reported on July 19, 1919: “The whole countryside came to the memorial service, thronged the church and filled the churchyard ten feet deep around the church, listening and participating through the open doors and windows.”

Yet Cpl. Hartman’s body wasn’t there. He was killed in France on Oct. 10, 1918. Like too many U.S. Army infantrymen who fell in World War I, he was buried in an American cemetery on European soil. Military records indicate that Hartman was buried with his identification tags, one of which was attached to the cross-shaped marker hovering over his grave. Most men killed in the Great War were buried this way.

Today few remember the names of men who made the ultimate sacrifice. Their mothers knew that people often forget what they do not see.

Read the complete commentary at WSJ.com.

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Jeremiah DysComment
Tampa Officials Killed the Same Mic Billy Graham Once Used

Most Americans have some memory of Graham standing on the dais erected over the end zone of a packed sports stadium, preaching the Gospel message of Jesus Christ over the stadium’s speakers, prompting millions of people to “come forward.”

Orlando’s Camping World Stadium is just such a stadium. When it opened as the Tangerine Bowl in 1969, Graham’s crusade christened it. He would return in 1983 when the City of Orlando — the owners of the stadium then, as now — renamed it the Citrus Bowl.

It was also the venue for a 2015 state football championship game between two private Christian high schools. The schools, Tampa’s Cambridge Christian School and Jacksonville’s University Christian School, hold a lengthy tradition of opening their games with a prayer over the loudspeaker.

Read the entire commentary at LifeZette.com.

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Jeremiah DysComment
DOJ Religious Liberty Task Force Continues American Tradition of Prioritizing Religious Liberty

Every American is entitled to religious liberty, but not every government official keeps that promise. As with the Executive Order on Religious Liberty and the subsequent guidelines issued by the Attorney General to the executive departments, this task force is one more welcome step this president and his attorney general have taken to strengthen our national commitment to religious liberty.

That it is even necessary is regrettable. The First Amendment should suffice for the protection of the religious liberty of all Americans; however, as Congress and the courts have recognized, at times more attention is required to preserve and defend the First Amendment.

Read the entire commentary at TownHall.com.

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Jeremiah DysComment
How could an American high school let misunderstanding and fear triumph over love and freedom at graduation?

The young man should have been congratulated for his academic achievements and his speech, with themes of the triumph of justice, love, and forgiveness over evil. Instead, on what was supposed to be a joyous day for Blackledge and his family, misunderstanding and fear triumphed over love and freedom.

That school officials would censor Blackledge’s speech and deny him the freedom to share this essential part of his identity with his loved ones and classmates is inexcusable.

How many more high school graduations must be ruined by school officials who, by misunderstanding or intentional act, deny their pupils their constitutional rights to freedom of expression from the schoolhouse gates all the way through the graduation ceremony?

What is so dangerous about a young man having the humility to acknowledge that his success would not have been possible without his faith that he must be kept from the podium?

Read the entire commentary at FoxNews.com

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Jeremiah DysComment
The White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative Levels the Playing Field

The following first appeared at TownHall.com on May 9, 2018.

Americans have a long history of welcoming the compassionate and innovative work of religious individuals and organizations.

On this year’s observance of the National Day of Prayer, President Trump extended that history by announcing the creation of The White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative (“Initiative”). The initiative, rebranded from prior administrations, reaffirms our national commitment to welcoming the full participation of religious individuals and organizations to serve their local community, just like everyone else.

According to President Trump, “The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country.” Importantly, the President noted that the Initiative will bear the responsibility of ensuring “that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.”

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Jeremiah DysComment
Senators are Failing the Religious Test for Office

The following first appeared at TheHill.com on April 26, 2018.

While most coverage of Mike Pompeo’s nomination for secretary of State focused on the battle for votes in the Senate, the process also featured the latest in a disturbing trend of senators apparently violating Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

Last week, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was the latest U.S. senator to add his name to a growing list treating the Constitution’s unequivocal rejection of a religious test for office like the “Pirates of the Caribbean’s” Barbosa treats “The Code”: “more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

Article VI, specifically the final clause, guarantees that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Someone tell the Democratic caucus of the U.S. Senate. 

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Jeremiah DysComment
Can an America Hostile to Religion Ever Have Another Billy Graham?

The following first appears at TheHill.com on March 1, 2018.

Billy Graham was a unique figure not only in American history, but in the much longer history of Christianity. He led more than 400 crusades, preached to millions of souls in person, reached millions and millions more through television and radio, and counseled presidents. It will be very difficult indeed to replace a man of such impact and integrity.

It’s not surprising, then, that many people are wondering whether America will ever see another Billy Graham. But given the changes in the legal landscape over the past half century, and the hostility with which public expressions of religious faith are now treated, the real question is whether America can see another Billy Graham.

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Jeremiah DysComment
The Police Tell an Elderly Catholic Woman She Can't Pray - In Her Own Home

This commentary first appeared at DailyCaller.com on October 26, 2016.

Every American should feel safe to pray in the privacy of her own home. Mary Anne Sause did not.

A knock on the door late one night startles Mary Anne. It would startle anybody not expecting company, but Mary Anne is almost 60, a retired nurse on disability who lives alone who still vividly remembers the night she was raped. Whoever is knocking elects not to disclose their identity, so Mary Anne does not answer the door.

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Jeremiah DysComment
Students: Have Faith Without Fear

The following first appeared at Lifezette.com on September 7, 2016.

In junior high school, Liz Loverde went through a dark period in her life. She was depressed, thought of self-harm, and even contemplated suicide.

But her Christian faith ultimately brought her safely through those dark days.

As a sophomore at Wantaugh High School on Long Island, New York, Loverde realized there were a lot of kids who were going through the same struggles she had faced. She realized how much she wanted to help, so she tried to form a group called “Dare to Believe.” The idea was to institute a student club that would meet after school, focused on helping students support each other and strengthen each other in their faith.

 

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Jeremiah DysComment
'In God We Trust' Bumper Stickers on Police Cruisers Should Not Be Controversial

The following commentary first appeared in the Dallas Morning News in September 2015. 

Law enforcement officers face the daily prospect of targeted violence, so it is no wonder they have chosen to rally around our national motto: “In God We Trust.”

Although many view officers as heroes worthy of our greatest respect, when “In God We Trust” began appearing on their cruisers, anti-religion activists responded with threats of lawsuits.

But the county sheriffs that received these threats should know this: Both American law and American history support your use of our nation’s motto.

 

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Jeremiah DysComment
Lawmakers Must Act to Protect Religious Liberty

The following commentary first appeared in the Indianapolis Star on January 23, 2016.

Less than a year ago, the solicitor general of the United States stood before the Supreme Court of the United States — and, by extension, the entire nation — and admitted that changing how we define marriage would present “an issue” for religious organizations seeking to be faithful to their beliefs and convictions. Now, as legislatures convene across the nation and in Washington, D.C., we have arrived at the first opportunity to address that “issue.”

 

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Jeremiah DysComment
Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower Still Convey Quintessential American Ideas

The following essay first appeared on The Federalist on August 31, 2016.

I spend my workday world within the First Amendment. My daily reading list is less Robert Ludlum and more John Roberts. Such is the career of a constitutional attorney: rewarding, yet intense. Summer, though, is the time to leave work behind, take to the road with family, and make memories at national parks and historical sites that remind us of what makes us Americans.

I was prepared for the long drives, the longer lines, and the late nights leading to early mornings with my gracious wife and four rambunctious boys. What I did not expect were the poignant lessons I learned about religious liberty.

 

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The Constitution protects women-only swim hours for Orthodox Jewish women (and others)

The following was co-authored with Stephanie Phillips and appeared in the New York Daily News and NYDailyNews.com on July 26, 2016.

Just off Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn stands the Metropolitan Recreation Center. Built in 1922, the Department of Public Works hoped its indoor pool would help promote public health and serve the entire Williamsburg community — a community heavily populated with members of the Orthodox Jewish faith.

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