By Roger Drinnon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Judge Ruth Neely — under fire since 2014 for expressing her faith-based beliefs on marriage — has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Wyoming Supreme Court’s censure earlier this year, which has driven her from a magistrate judge position albeit allowing her to remain a municipal judge.
Neely is a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church, a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod congregation in Pinedale, Wyo. She is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit legal organization that advocates for the rights of people to live freely according to their faith.
“This case presents an important free-exercise question,” states the petition ADF attorneys filed with the high court Aug. 4 in Neely v. Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics. “Although the state has a system of individualized exemptions that permits magistrates to decline marriages for nearly any secular reason, the Wyoming Supreme Court held that Judge Neely could not refer same-sex-marriage requests (if she ever received any) to other magistrates for the religious reason she expressed.”
The petition adds that Neely’s case “also raises a significant free-speech issue. Judges who have authority to solemnize marriages should not be punished simply for expressing a religious conflict with officiating same-sex weddings … Punishing people of faith for merely expressing those beliefs conflicts with our nation’s constitutional commitment to free speech.”
Last year, the Synod joined an amicus brief in defense of Neely.
- Read related Reporter Online story — “Judge Neely will remain on bench despite censure”
Posted August 8, 2017