Sekulow & Zimmerman on Jews for Jesus, 25 years later

Jay Alan Sekulow and Erik M. Zimmerman (both from American Center for Law and Justice) have posted Reflections on Jews for Jesus: Twenty-five Years Later. The abstract follows.

This Article marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Board of Airport Commissioners v. Jews for Jesus, Inc. The Court held, in a unanimous decision, that LAX Resolution No. 13787 declaring that Los Angeles International Airport’s  central terminal area “is not open for First Amendment activities by any individual and/or entity”—which airport officials interpreted to allow “airport-related” expression and forbid other expression, such as religious leafleting—violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. More broadly, Jews for Jesus contributed to the fight to provide equal footing for religious speech in the free speech arena, a development that has become all the more important since the Supreme Court abandoned the application of strict scrutiny in free exercise cases in 1990.

This Article discusses the Jews for Jesus litigation and the Supreme Court decision’s impact on First Amendment jurisprudence. Part I provides legal background for the case, discussing various Supreme Court cases decided before Jews for Jesus that addressed restrictions on leafleting or assembly, laws that provided government officials with unfettered discretion, or claims of a free speech right to access various types of public property for expressive activities. Part II discusses the Jews for Jesus litigation, from the enactment of the Resolution to the issuance of the Supreme Court’s decision. Part III discusses the impact and continued legal relevance of Jews for Jesus. Part IV describes the effect of Jews for Jesus over the past twenty-five years from a legal, practical, and personal perspective, as well as the developments in the law of religious speech since the 1987 decision.

One response

  1. Colleagues who are interested in comparison of rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion around the common law world might like to compare the result in the “Jews for Jesus” case with the recent decision of the High Court of Australia in Attorney-General (SA) v Corporation of the City of Adelaide [2013] HCA 3 (27 February 2013) http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2013/3.html where a majority of the Court upheld a local ordinance forbidding inter alia “preaching” in public spaces without grant of a prior permit. Of course Australia has a much more limited “freedom of speech” right and our freedom of religion provision has also been interpreted much more narrowly than in the United States.

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