In his first of what has become a long career of successful cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, Jay Sekulow won a unanimous victory for religious free speech rights. Jews for Jesus, a Messianic Jewish organization, engaged in a practice of Christian witnessing by passing out religious tracts to passersby at the Los Angeles International Airport. Airport officials then created a policy forbidding all “First Amendment activities.” Jews for Jesus members continued distributing Christian tracts and were arrested.
Sekulow approached this case from, what at the time was, a unique angle, arguing for the free speech rights of his clients instead of relying solely on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. This approach resulted in a unanimous decision in favor of Jews for Jesus, and began what has become a fixture of First Amendment jurisprudence: religious speech is given the same protection as all other protected speech. The unanimous Court held that the regulation at issue was overbroad on its face; in other words, it was so overreaching and violative of the First Amendment that “no conceivable governmental interest would justify such an absolute prohibition of speech.” It was a resounding win for free speech and religious liberty.