Your Prayers Were Heard...All the Way to the U.S. Supreme Court!

There’s so much good to report!

At Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing about free speech, life, and religious liberty, the question was whether a law passed in California could force pro-life clinics and crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for the state’s free abortion program… in up to 13 languages, no less!

Although a lawsuit to stop the statute was struck down by the Ninth Circuit, you may recall back in October 2017, Tyler & Bursch’s pro bono attorneys, with funding from Advocates for Faith & Freedom, prevailed against this law on Free Speech grounds in Riverside County Superior Court in Scharpen Foundation v. Kamala Harris.

Still, California’s Attorney General persisted on defending this discriminatory law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where non-profit legal defense law firms from across the country took the lead.  Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s research and amicus brief played a significant role in its opposition and was mentioned by three Justices at Tuesday’s hearing.

According to the Daily Signal, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether an unlicensed center ran a billboard that read “Choose Life,” would it have to include the disclosure in the same font and in multiple languages? Wouldn’t that be an undue burden?”

A Courthouse News Service article quoted both Justice Alito and Justice Gorsuch.  “If you have a law that’s neutral on its face, but… when you apply all the exemptions, what you’re left with is a very strange pattern, and, gee, it turns out that just about the only clinics that are covered by this [law] are pro-life clinics,” Alito said. “Do you think it’s possible to infer intentional discrimination in that situation?”

While Justice Neil Gorsuch commented that the California law required pregnancy centers to “do the state’s job” at a significant cost to what Advocates for Faith & Freedom’sresearch set out to prove, are mostly nonprofit, pro-life facilities. “Well, but if you’re trying to educate a class of persons about their rights, it’s pretty unusual to force a private speaker to do that for you under the First Amendment,” Gorsuch said.

Commenting right after leaving the Supreme Court hearing with our client, Scott Scharpen, Tyler & Bursch attorney, Robert Tyler was optimistic, saying, “Based on the arguments, it certainly appears that victory is awaiting!”

Unlike Planned Parenthood, non-profit crisis pregnancy centers exist to support women who face difficult or unplanned pregnancies and receive no money or support from the government.  It was apparent the Justices recognized the state’s majority pro-abortion lawmakers targeted these groups.

It was only through your prayers and financial support that Advocates was able to contribute the research and provide the pro bono legal services that we feel certain made a big difference in this case!

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me. ~ Psalm 66:20 (NLT)

As Long As They Continue Their Attack, Advocates Will Continue To Fight!

Nationally, pro-life and religious liberty protections are strengthening.  Yet, with bills like AB569 that ban Christian employers from requiring their employees to be pro-life in practice (as well as adhere to other biblical values), and laws like AB775 that required pro-life birth clinics to advertise for abortion services, California is ground zero for promoting anti-Christian policies through legislation.

Struggling against their own antithetical rhetoric, they voted to remove the requirement to provide one’s biological gender on birth certificates and drivers licenses while, at the same time, declaring anyone who does not believe in their version of global warming a “science denier.”

California’s liberal legislators have become not only an arm, but a hand and a mouth for left-wing special interest groups. That’s why Advocates for Faith & Freedom is working hard to counter their anti-constitutional, anti-Christian alliances and policies. Below are three important cases we have been fighting on behalf of religious liberty.

Free speech Advocates attorneys are working side-by-side with other legal organizations by sharing our research from our success on the Scharpen case, submitting an Amicus brief, and more, for the NIFLA v. Becerra case, which will be argued before the High Court on March 20, 2018.

Religious land use On March 22, 2018, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will submit the opening brief on appeal in the Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship religious land use (RLUIPA) case.

Religious expression Asked to represent Chino Valley Unified School District in their appeal involving opening school board meetings with an invocation prayer, Advocates for Faith & Freedom gave oral arguments in November 2017 and we’re awaiting the judge’s decision.

As you can see, these cases can sometimes take years to defend and the court fees are costly. Partnering with us in prayer, along with your financial support is important to our success in every case!

“The righteous shall flourish… in courts of our God.” Psalm 92:12-13 NIV

              The good news is that we know God is in charge, so as long as anti-Christian organizations and lawmakers in California continue their attack on religious liberties, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will continue to defend the constitutional rights of Christians.

We Got Another Big Victory for Life & Free Speech!

You may recall we are representing the Scharpen Foundation in challenging AB775 the Reproductive FACT Act where we filed a lawsuit in both federal and state courts. The California statute requires pro-life pregnancy centers that are Christian-based in just about all cases, to provide women the contact information for where they can get free and low- cost abortions.

After arguing for three hours in the Superior Court in Riverside County on April 6, 2017, the California State Attorney General’s motion to dismiss our case was just denied this last week!

According to the judge, this law “forces the clinic to point the way to the abortion clinic.”

In her ruling, Judge Gloria Trask wrote that “the required notification is compelled speech which on its face violates freedom of speech protected by Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution.”

With funding raised by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, Tyler & Bursch’s lawyers strategically filed the lawsuit in state court because the California State Constitution is supposed to provide greater free speech protection than the First Amendment.

Ms. Nada Higuera, our staff attorney who argued the case, said that “Judge Trask explains that because free speech is involved under the State Constitution, the Court must strictly scrutinize whether the legislation is lawful. After scrutinizing the law, the judge agreed with our analysis that the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech.”

Freedom of expression on public issues should be protected at the highest level.  Therefore, this law should be analyzed using strict scrutiny. The ruling warned that the state’s “ability to impress free citizens into State service in this political dispute cannot be absolute; it must be limited.”

In her ruling, the judge explained that this state-compelled speech “is not merely the transmittal of neutral information.” She agreed with our attorneys that this is not just calorie counting or a health hazard warning on smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. This issue - which is “contentious and raises issues that are religious, cultural, political and legal” - is about the more than four decades-long dispute over abortion.

          The Reproductive FACT Act compels the clinic to “speak words with which it profoundly disagrees” and “places too heavy a burden upon the liberty of free thought.”         

Given the language in the ruling, Tyler & Bursch’s General Counsel Robert Tyler is confident that “while this ruling is not the final judgment, this interim ruling foreshadows what will be the judge’s final decision. She makes her opinion known that the law is unconstitutional.”

   Our next hearing is set for July 21, 2017, where the court will give direction on how our case should proceed - whether the case will actually have a trial or whether it should be simply decided by briefing.

Concurrently, we also represent Livingwell Medical Clinic in federal court. This statute was previously upheld in that case as not violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution before a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit. That case is pending a determination from the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether the High Court will take up our case. Our two-front strategy gives us the ability to win in either federal or state court.

Although it appears that victory is at hand in state court, we would not be able to do any of this without the generous financial support from friends like you. Won’t you please consider donating just $25, $100, $200 or more so we can continue fighting for religious liberties in the courts?

While Advocates for Faith & Freedom depends on our supporters for the funds to fight these important cases, we first and foremost thank you for your continued prayers.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and your donations

Christian Vindicated - WIN in the Ninth Circuit!

I have great news to share with you regarding a case that many of you have followed and supported for many years! On January 11th, three federal  appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit  issued a final ruling in favor of our  client,  Mark  Mackey, who was arrested back in 2011 for reading the  Bible aloud  in  front of the  California Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet.

Overzealous CHP officer, Darren Meyer, approached Mark Mackey, grabbed the Bible from his hands, slapped handcuffs on his wrists, and hauled him off to jail. The entire episode was recorded on video and, despite clear evidence that Mr. Mackey and his friends were merely exercising their constitutional rights, the state refused to drop the charges. The video showed Officer Meyer saying that it was illegal to “preach to a captive audience.”

The court also rightly rebuked Officer Meyer for false allegations in his police report. In that report, the officer alleged that Mr. Mackey was yelling at people waiting in line and that a “verbal confrontation” had become “heated and nearing a physical state.”

The Ninth Circuit judge explained, “That version of events is completely belied by video and audio footage which does not reveal any confrontations whatsoever, and merely shows Mackey reading the bible aloud somewhat apart from people standing in line.”

It was obvious to us from the beginning that a great injustice had occurred. An innocent man exercising his religious liberty and free speech was criminally  prosecuted  based on erroneous claims put  forth  by a false and deceitful police report because the officials did not agree with our client’s speech. But that is exactly why our founders created the First Amendment—to protect even disagreeable speech.

Mr.  Mackey  filed a federal lawsuit, but  immediately  offered to drop the  federal  suit  if  the CHP admitted to the unlawful arrest and agreed to properly instruct its officers on how to handle such cases. They declined. Instead they prosecuted him. We successfully prevailed over the criminal charges.

Because of the nature of this case, it received national attention and more than 165,000 people have viewed the online video. But the real work was done behind the scenes as our team invested hundreds of hours investigating legal precedents, drafting briefs and dealing with opposing counsel.

Without dedicated supporters like YOU, who offered consistent prayers and financial backing over the years, Mr. Mackey would never have prevailed. His win in the liberal Ninth Circuit is a win for all of us who hold religious liberty dear. On behalf of Mark Mackey—and those who come after him—We Thank You!

If you would like to financially support the essential work we do here at Advocates for Faith & Freedom, please click here.

Click to view the Press Release.

Christian Vindicated! Ninth Circuit Finds Arrest Unlawful by CHP Officer

Pasadena, CA. Today, three federal appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit issued a final ruling in favor of a Christian man, Mark Mackey, who was arrested for reading the Bible aloud in front of the California Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet, CA in 2011. Read the ruling here. The CHP Officer, Darren Meyers, erroneously cited Mr. Mackey for violating a state law that forbids the interference with an open business through obstruction and intimidation. The Ninth Circuit rebuked the officer’s fabricated claims in his police report:

Upon arrival, Meyer encountered Mackey reading his bible aloud in a dirt patch, neither obstructing nor intimidating anyone in line. Meyer avers that Mackey was “yelling at the people waiting in line,” “that there was obvious verbal confrontation between the group of men and the people standing in line,” and that the “confrontation was heated and nearing a physical state.” That version of events is completely belied by video and audio footage which does not reveal any confrontations whatsoever, and merely shows Mackey reading the bible aloud somewhat apart from people standing in line.

View the video of the arrest. This story was widely covered by Fox News and many other news outlets shortly after the arrest: Fox News Video.

Representing Mr. Mackey, Advocates for Faith & Freedom filed a federal lawsuit for unlawful arrest arguing the officer had no basis or probable cause to arrest Mr. Mackey. Mr. Mackey offered to dismiss his suit if the CHP simply admitted the arrest was unlawful and agreed to properly instruct its officers. The CHP rejected that offer and Mr. Mackey was instead criminally prosecuted in California state court in the County of Riverside.

View our previous press release that outlines the facts and charges.

However, Mr. Mackey prevailed in the criminal prosecution and was found not guilty of the charges. Thereafter, Mr. Mackey’s federal case continued ending up in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal.

Robert Tyler, who argued in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Mr. Mackey, stated, “An innocent man exercising his religious liberty and free speech was criminally prosecuted based on erroneous claims put forth by a false and deceitful police report. It appears to me that the arrest and prosecution of my client was politically motivated because they did not agree with my client’s speech. But that is exactly why our founders created the First Amendment – to protect even disagreeable speech. Today’s decision renews my hope in the justice system.”

Mark Mackey stated, “Justice still prevails. I am excited that our country is going in the right direction.”

Co-counsel and volunteer criminal defense attorney Nic Cocis commented, “It is refreshing to know that our system still works. The video evidence clearly contradicted the claims of the officer, but it took our appeal to the Ninth Circuit before justice could be realized. The officer and the CHP should be held accountable for their disregard of constitutional liberties.”

NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, Case No. 15-55186

Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts. You can visit our website at www.faith-freedom.com.

Email info@faith-freedom.com to receive press releases. Also, join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our progress in this case and others.

Three of our Cases Pending in the Ninth Circuit

Is reading the Bible aloud in public “illegal?” You may recall that in 2013, we defended two men who were arrested by a CHP officer because they were reading the Bible aloud in a DMV parking lot. The men were arrested for “obstructing or intimidating persons there to transact business” with the DMV. The District Attorney’s arrest-with-captionOffice prosecuted our clients for a misdemeanor. However, we were victorious at trial and  our  clients were  found to be  innocent  of  the charges.

This entire case was based on two police reports written by the arresting CHP officer who fabricated events to justify the arrest. Thankfully, video recordings provide the truth. We offered the CHP the opportunity to avoid a federal lawsuit by admitting the arrest was unlawful and agreeing to properly instruct its officers. We filed a federal lawsuit for unlawful arrest in federal court after the CHP rejected our proposal. The federal district judge ignored the video evidence and ruled for the CHP. We then filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal.

We appeared for oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit before a three-judge panel on December 9, 2016. The decision from the Ninth Circuit should come sometime next year. Please pray for God’s divine wisdom and guidance as we proceed in this case.

Is it “illegal” to allow invocations at school board meetings?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is aggressively pushing its agenda. They sued the Chino Valley Unified School District because it allowed a pastor or religious leader to open each school board meeting with an invocation. After a federal district court judge declared the invocations to be unconstitutional, the School District asked us to appeal their case to the Ninth Circuit and to  take  over their  defense.chino-valley-schoo-board-prayer-supporters

The so-called “separation of church and state” does not  exist  in the  Constitution,  but has been used in an  attempt to eliminate all influence of a Christian worldview in our government.  We will defend the school district all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed so that our leaders can properly begin their meetings with reverence for God and recognize their moral responsibility in government.

The outcome of this case will impact the judiciary nationally and will likely be binding on all of the nine states under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction and more than 60,000,000  residents.  Prayers have been offered at the beginning of legislative meetings since the founding of our country. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the practice in state legislative meetings and city council meetings. 

Is  it “legal” to force all Christian pregnancy counseling centers to give abortion referrals?

This is precisely the question we were asked by our client, Pastor Scott Scharpen, the president  of Go Mobile for Life—a nonprofit crisis pregnancy counseling center that operates a mobile medical clinic providing free ultrasounds.

scott-and-carolyn-sharpen-with-captionThe State of California recently enacted a new law that requires pregnancy counseling centers to give their clients a notice that “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women.” The notice must also include the phone number to the county social services office where abortion information can be obtained. The abortion notice must be posted in a conspicuous place within the waiting room or personally delivered to each patient.

Although there are some exemptions to the law, they appear to apply to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, but there is no exemption for religiously-based counseling centers.

We partnered with our friends at American Center for Law and Justice and filed a lawsuit on behalf of Go Mobile for Life in California state court where we are presently in active litigation and conducting depositions. We also filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Livingwell Medical Clinic in northern California. After the initial three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit denied our request for a preliminary injunction, we filed a petition “en banc” wherein we are requesting all of the judges in the Ninth Circuit to vote on whether an eleven-judge panel should be appointed to rehear the case.

As you can see, we are extremely busy preparing and strategizing on these three cases, as well as many others. We certainly appreciate your prayers and any contributions you can offer to assist us as we take a stand in the courts.

Orange County Board Now Facing Prayer Challenge

  The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is suing our client, Chino Valley Unified School District, over CVUSD’s prayer i"Famous saying, In God We Trust, carved in stone."nvocation policy, is expanding its intimidation campaign by setting its sights on another Southern California school board. The anti-religion FFRF has now sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Orange County Board of Education demanding it stop similar prayers before its meetings. It is also insisting that the governing body remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from the wall behind its official dais.

According to the Orange County Register, the letter was sent to the governing board late this summer, and several members of the public expressed their concerns about the practice during meetings earlier this fall. On Nov. 16, however, dozens of local residents urged the board to continue with its prayer policy. In the article, reporter Roxana Kopetman referred to our case and quoted Robert Tyler, founding partner for Tyler & Bursch, LLP and Advocates for Faith & Freedom.

“We’re fighting for the invocations,” the article quoted Robert as saying. “It’s something that’s been going on since the founding of our country.”

Our case is now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court sided with FFRF. After losing at the trial court level, Chino Valley hired Tyler & Bursch to represent them during the appeal, which is expected to be heard late next year. Advocates for Faith & Freedom is helping to underwrite the costs with the Tyler & Bursch legal team.

praying-hands-with-american-flag-graphicWe are confident that we will prevail with the appeal since the U.S. Supreme Court—in the 2014 case Town of Greece v. Galloway—sanctioned the practice of public prayer as long as municipalities use a nondiscriminatory process in selecting the volunteers who offer the prayers. The Orange County policy allows any faith group to pray and randomly selects who will offer the invocation.

In the meantime, we have offered our expertise in representing the Orange County Board of Education in any litigation it may face over its invocation policy. As always, Advocates for Faith & Freedom offers these services pro bono. We appreciate the financial support from friends like you who help make it possible for us to fight these court battles. Thank you!

Victory for this 5th grader and her poem about Jesus!

A public school teacher in Stanislaus County, California, gave a homework assignment to her fifth grade students to write two poems on any subject and turn them in the next day.  Since it was just before the Christmas break, Kali decided to write her two poems about the holiday season.  She wrote one poem about reindeer and another about Jesus. When Kali turned in her assignment the next day, her teacher rejected the poem about Jesus and informed her that she would have to redo her assignment because, “You can’t write about Jesus in school.”  Kali rewrote her poem and then school was out on Christmas break. Sarah Thomas In January, when her parents were getting her ready for the first day back to school after the Christmas break, they found Kali’s Jesus poem crossed out and saw that no credit was given on this assignment.

Her stepfather, Kyle Thomas, called one of our attorneys here at Advocates for Faith & Freedom to inquire about his stepdaughter’s legal right to write about Jesus. After learning from attorney Marty Nicholson that expressing disapproval or hostility toward religion or toward religious viewpoints expressed by students is against the law, Mr. Thomas met with school officials. Knowing that Advocates was ready and willing to represent his daughter’s religious freedoms, Mr. Thomas was able to explain to the school representatives that his daughter’s homework should not have been rejected.

We are happy to report that the school officials agreed and allowed the poem to be recorded for full credit. We’re proud of you Kali! Here is her beautiful poem:

Poem final

Update on Hemet DMV Bible Reading Arrest & Two Important Pro-Life Bills

Advocates for Faith & Freedom has filed a legal brief in support of religious freedom before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Mark Mackey, the Riverside man who was preaching the gospel when he was arrested outside the Hemet DMV for what a CHP officer deemed “interfering with an open business through obstruction or intimidation.” Last year, though, a Superior Court judge absolved Mackey of the crime saying that the street preacher did not violate the law. During the course of the criminal trial, the judge also suggested that the law used by the CHP officer was unconstitutional.

Mackey and two other men were reading the Bible outside the DMV when Officer Darren Meyer accused them of preaching to a “captive audience.” The officer hemet-screengrab2-39later amended the allegations, citing them instead for intimidation. At the time the men were approached by the officer, however, the DMV office was closed and the men were standing 50 feet from the entrance as citizens waited outside the door. The men never approached the crowd. After insisting that they were exercising their constitutional rights, the officer arrested Mark Mackey and Brett Coronado.

The federal suit—stayed while the criminal case played out in state court—alleges that there was no probable cause to arrest Mackey and that his First Amendment rights were violated. Even though our client has been criminally cleared, we are seeking a federal remedy to further clear his name and to protect other individuals who seek to peacefully express their faith. The federal district court found that the CHP officer did have probable cause. We will keep you apprised as this Ninth Circuit Appeal advances.

In addition to our legal cases, Advocates is also carefully monitoring two important pro-life issues that are making their way through the state Legislature. The first, Assembly Bill 775, is dubbed the “bully bill” because it compels operators of Pregnancy Care Clinics to promote free and low-cost abortion services in their lobbies, websites, and literature. This is clearly in violation of the operators’ personal and religious briefs. The bill has already passed the Assembly and is waiting for a floor vote in the state Senate at any moment. For contact information for your state Senator click here. To find your state Senator, click here.

Assisted SuicideThe second bill deals with life at the other end of the spectrum and involves a resurrected attempt to legalize physician-assisted suicide statewide. After not having enough votes to get Senate Bill 128—the original assisted suicide bill—out of the Assembly Health Committee earlier this summer, lawmakers decided to bypass the full committee by piggy backing their bill through an “Extraordinary Session” called by Governor Jerry Brown. Extraordinary Sessions are a tool used by governors to deal with pressing issues on a specific topic. In these sessions, the scope of action is limited and the committee rosters are usually much smaller than in the general session.

In this instance, Brown called for the special session to deal with health financing for the poor. Since the deadline to introduce new bills had already expired for the year, proponents seized upon a state law that allows the introduction of new bills if they are related to the topic of Extraordinary Sessions, in this case healthcare financing. In introducing the new bill, ABX2-15, author Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), tried to justify the move by saying assisted suicide would make “healthcare work better” a claim that caused Gov. Brown to call the approach inappropriate.

“This important issue merits careful consideration,” Deborah Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Governor told the San Jose Mercury News. “The process already well underway with the two-year bill, SB 128, is more appropriate than the special session.”

By using this special session, the bill’s sponsors will be able to take advantage of a much smaller Assembly Health Committee, which has been reformed without many of the Democrats who originally opposed the bill. Now is the time to contact your elected officials to voice opposition to the special session tactic and the bill. You can find contact information for your Assembly member here.  To find out who your Assembly representative is, click here.

Is Jesus Allowed In School? Advocates for Faith & Freedom Files Suit

Advocates for Faith & Freedom Press ReleaseSeptember 8, 2014 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Victor Bermudez or Lori Sanada (888) 588-6888

Is Jesus Allowed In School? Advocates for Faith & Freedom Files Suit

West Covina, CA. Advocates for Faith & Freedom filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Monday, September 8th 2014. The federal complaint comes after the parents of Isaiah Martinez felt their son’s right to freedom of religious speech was revoked in his classroom. Last Christmas, Isaiah Martinez took Christmas gifts intended for his first grade teacher and classmates to Merced Elementary in the West Covina Unified School District. Each gift consisted of a traditional candy cane with a message attached that recited the legend of the candy cane. The legend references a candy maker who created the candy cane to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah’s older sister told him about the legend of the candy cane and Isaiah asked if he could share it with his teacher and his classmates. His sister then purchased candy canes, and helped Isaiah printed the candy cane message and tie a copy to each candy cane.

 

When Isaiah brought his Christmas gift to school, his teacher took possession of the candy canes. At the direction of the school principal, the teacher told Isaiah that “Jesus is not allowed in school” and ripped the candy cane message from each candy cane, threw the messages in the trash, and handed the candy canes back to Isaiah for delivery to his classmates. Isaiah then nervously handed the candy canes to his classmates in fear that he was in trouble for trying to bring a little Christmas cheer and “good tidings” to class.

Isaiah’s parents reached out to Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit public interest law firm, to learn whether the school and administration’s actions were lawful.

Advocates immediately sent a letter to the West Covina Unified School District demanding that the school apologize for how Isaiah was treated and adopt a policy prohibiting school officials from discriminating against or intimidating Christian and other religiously-affiliated students. Ultimately, Isaiah wants to be able to hand out his gift in class like all the other students in the future.

In January the story garnered attention from major news outlets including FoxUnivision, and NBC.

The school conducted an investigation and substantially confirmed the facts as presented, but the school district believed that their actions were warranted. Advocates then appealed to the school board requesting once again that Isaiah be allowed to hand out the candy canes and that the school board revise its policies. After the school board failed to adopt a new policy, Advocates appealed to the California Department of Education but the CDE has not yet responded.

Robert Tyler, lawyer and General Counsel, explained their decision to file a law suit saying, “the school has neglected to correct its actions, and after exhausting all options to avoid a lawsuit we were left with no choice but to file a complaint in federal court. We are asking the court to protect Isaiah's rights and the rights of others like him from having their religious speech censored. Students do not shed their First Amendment rights just because they enter into a classroom”.

If successful, the law suit will secure the right for Isaiah to share his Christmas gifts with his fellow classmates.

A copy of the original demand letter can be found here. A copy of the federal complaint can be found here. A picture of Isaiah and his Father, Alex Martinez, can be found here.

Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts. You can visit our website at www.faith-freedom.com.

Email info@faith-freedom.com to receive press releases from Advocates for Faith & Freedom. Also, join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our progress in this case and others.