Breitbart News – December 23, 2016
WASHINGTON—Lawyers representing Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling— the U.S. Marine court-martialed for displaying Bible verses on her desk—petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on the Friday before Christmas to take her appeal, one of the biggest military religious liberty cases in American history.
Sterling was a substandard Marine, but the straw that broke the camel’s back to get her court-martialed was posting, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper,” a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:17. Representing herself during the prosecution, she argued that she had a religious liberty right to post that verse. She was convicted and dishonorably discharged from the military.
Religious liberty lawyers at First Liberty Institute agreed that Sterling’s posting Bible verses is protected by law—specifically, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—and took her case free of charge, recruiting one of the greatest Supreme Court litigators in recent decades, former Solicitor General Paul Clement, to lead their team.
Clement and First Liberty argued for her at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Judge Margaret Ryan wrote the 4-1 split opinion of the court ruling against her, holding that it is not a “substantial burden” on religious expression to criminally prosecute a person for posting Bible verses, and that RFRA does not stop the military from requiring service members to go through a lengthy administrative appeal process before they can continue to express their faith.