Pastor Free Speech Lawsuit

A Florida pastor appealed his free speech claims to a higher authority. I’m Amy E. Feldman.

A senior pastor at a Baptist church in Jacksonville, Florida, was invited to give the invocation before the city council meeting, and began, as expected, with a prayer. But then he kept talking—by criticizing the city’s executive and legislative branches and when he refused to go back to the prayer as requested, the council president cut his mic. It’s good to have power. 

The pastor sued, alleging the council violated his First Amendment rights—not his right to freedom of religion; the council apparently had no issue with his prayer. Indeed, they’d invited him to give it. He sued for the right to free speech, but the court of appeals rejected his claim because the council has the power to invite speakers to speak on its behalf, as it did by inviting him, and it has the power to limit that speech to what they’ve asked him to talk about. So now we’ll wait to see if the Supreme Court will hear his prayer for a different decision.

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