What You Can Do to Protect Religious Liberty and Free Speech for All!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. Pray! Pray! Pray!
2. Write letters to legislators, the Governor’s office, and local newspapers
3. Talk to your Pastor, local governmental officials and spread the word via social media
4. Sign the on-line petition to the Wyoming Supreme Court
• The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics is seeking to remove Judge Ruth Neely from the bench because she publicly expressed her belief in the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
• Americans/Wyomingites should be deeply troubled if someone can be removed from public office merely for expressing a belief that the government doesn’t like.
• Any attempt to punish Judge Neely for her response to the reporter’s question would violate her rights to the free exercise of religion and free speech under both the Wyoming and U.S. constitutions.
• Judge Neely’s position as municipal judge has nothing to do with marriages—the position does not even give her the authority to solemnize marriages. Even so, the commission is asking the Wyoming Supreme Court to remove Judge Neely from her municipal judgeship simply because she expressed her religious beliefs about marriage.
• The commission effectively declares that no person who shares Judge Neely’s religious beliefs about marriage can be a judge in Wyoming (even in a position that lacks authority to solemnize marriages). That amounts to an unconstitutional religious test for office in violation of the Wyoming Constitution, which states that “no person shall be rendered incompetent to hold any office…because of his opinion on any matter of religious belief whatever.”
• The commission argues that Judge Neely should be removed from the bench for purportedly stating that she would not follow the law. But no law requires that Circuit Court magistrates like Judge Neely perform marriages. As a magistrate, Judge Neely “may perform the ceremony of marriage,” but has no legal obligation or duty to do so. Wyo. Stat. § 20-1-106(a) (see attached).
• The commission is singling out Judge Neely because of her religious beliefs about marriage. Other magistrates in Wyoming routinely decline to solemnize marriages in Wyoming for a host of secular reasons. Judge Neely has been targeted simply because of what her faith teaches about marriage.
• The commission is wrong to suggest that Judge Neely’s response to the reporter’s question manifested bias or prejudice. The Supreme Court has recognized that the beliefs about marriage held by Judge Neely and tens of millions of other Americans are “based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises” and are “held in good faith by reasonable and sincere people.”
• Even LGBT citizens in Pinedale with full knowledge of her religious beliefs regarding marriage have no doubt that she has applied, and will continue to apply, the law fairly and impartially no matter the sexual orientation of the litigants who appear before her in court.
• Under the commission’s logic, an atheist judge who considers religious beliefs flawed cannot fairly decide cases involving religious people, or a judge who participates in local Democratic Party precinct caucuses cannot fairly decide cases involving Republicans. The commission’s position essentially means that no one who has an opinion on a contentious issue can be a judge, which means that no judge’s career is safe.
• The Wyoming Supreme Court will soon have the opportunity to reject the commission’s prosecution of Judge Neely and reaffirm that, in this country, speaking about one’s religious beliefs does not disqualify a person from holding public office.
• If the Wyoming Supreme Court agrees with the commission’s recommendation, it would communicate to the public that some professions are off limits for people who hold certain religious beliefs—a profoundly demeaning message to people of faith who share those convictions.
Sign the on-line petition to the Wyoming Supreme Court