The legal organization which secured Jack Phillip’s religious freedoms in the infamous Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Commission case at the Supreme Court have done it again — this time with a former fire chief for the city of Atlanta. Alliance Defending Freedom represented Kevin Cochran, former 2012 Fire Chief Magazine “Fire Chief of the Year,” after the city of Atlanta fired him — not for poor performance, but for authoring a book on his personal time which mentions his Christian beliefs.
The city of Atlanta now has to pay Cochran $1.2 million following the December 2017 court ruling. The court determined that Atlanta’s rules restricting non-work speech were too broad; they allowed city officials to discriminate against views with which they disagree in an unconstitutional manner.
On his personal time, Cochran wrote a small book that mentions his Christian views on sex and marriage, among other things. Upon discovering this, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran for 30 days without pay and required that Cochran complete “sensitivity training.” Reed then fired him, saying he was discriminating against others’ views, even though a city investigation concluded that Cochran did not discriminate against anyone.
In a statement, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said:
“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech. It also can’t fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods. We are very pleased that the city is compensating Chief Cochran as it should, and we hope this will serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants.”
This is yet another win in a long line of wins for Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal powerhouse with a Christian base that is to constitutional law what Justice Antonin Scalia was to originalism, or what Jay-Z is to rap, or Tom Brady is to football, or — you get the idea. In the last seven years, Alliance Defending Freedom has won all nine cases at the Supreme Court. For this stellar record, the organization has received its share of praise and vitriol.
After their win in Masterpiece, organizations like the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center doubled down in their efforts to label them a “hate group,” citing their “extreme” views on same-sex marriage, free speech, and religious liberty. Since when did protecting another group’s First Amendment rights become hateful or an act of hate speech? Not only is this illogical, but, coming from a legal organization, this is also a demonstration of their own liberal bias.
If anything, it sounds like a classic case of envy — all that winning and nobody to blame but those annoying Christians who want to protect the very laws that make this nation free, safe, and unique.
Nicole Russell (@russell_nm) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota.