Legal Briefs

Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries v. Glover

By Matthew D. McGill
August 8, 2007
For decades the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that religious speech is, like other types of speech, protected by the Free Speech Clause; accordingly, the Court has also consistently held that the government may not silence such speech simply because it expresses a religious viewpoint. Despite this well-settled law, local officials in Contra Costa County, California, specifically barred religious speech from a forum that the county had opened broadly for expressive activities: while the county opened library meeting rooms for every manner of educational, cultural, or community-related meetings or programs, it expressly excluded from those forums any speech that amounted to a “religious service.” Cato’s brief, authored by a team of lawyers from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, urges the Supreme Court to review a decision of the Ninth Circuit ratifying this blatant viewpoint discrimination. Cato’s brief also highlights the need for the Supreme Court to clarify its public-forum doctrine, a doctrine that, although fundamental in a large swath of free-speech cases, has led to widespread confusion among the Courts of Appeals as to the amount of protection the Free Speech Clause provides when speech occurs on public property.

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