Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs Association v. Clarke

AU's Role: 
AU's Involvement Began: 
May 2008
Status: 

At the invitation of the Milwaukee County Sheriff, the Fellowship of Christian Centurions made proselytizing presentations at mandatory meetings of the county’s deputy sheriffs. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin held that the sheriff’s actions were unconstitutional. The sheriff appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. In an amicus brief filed in May 2008, we argued that the sheriff’s conduct violated both the constitutional prohibition against religious coercion and the constitutional ban on endorsement of religion. We emphasized that the prohibition against coercion fully protects adults. We also explained that the mandatory meetings were not any sort of public forum that outsiders had a right to access. The Seventh Circuit held oral argument on September 23, 2008, and issued its ruling on December 4, 2009. The court held that the sheriff’s conduct violated the constitutional prohibition on governmental endorsement of religion, and it rejected the sheriff’s argument that the Free Speech Clause compelled him to grant the Christian Centurions access to his deputy sheriffs.

Most Recent Developments: 

The sheriff did not seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court, so the case has concluded.