Litigation Update: Archdiocese of Washington v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) prohibits religious advertisements on Metro buses, including the Archdiocese’s “Find the Perfect Gift” Christmas advertising campaign. Does this no-religious-speech policy violate the First Amendment’s speech and religion clauses, as well as also violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? The Archdiocese has filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to invalidate WMATA’s no-religious-speech policy.

Featuring: 

Megan M. Wold, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis

 

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Event Transcript

Operator:  Welcome to The Federalist Society's Practice Group Podcast. The following podcast, hosted by The Federalist Society's Religious Liberties Practice Group, was recorded on Thursday, August 8, 2019, during a live teleforum conference call held exclusively for Federalist Society members.        

 

Wesley Hodges:  Welcome to The Federalist Society's teleforum conference call. This afternoon's topic is a Litigation Update on the Archdiocese of Washington v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. My name is Wesley Hodges, and I'm the Associate Director of Practice Groups at The Federalist Society.

 

      As always, please note that all expressions of opinion are those of the expert on today's call.

 

      Today we are very fortunate to have with us Megan Wold, who is a Partner at Kirkland & Ellis. After our speaker gives her opening remarks, we will have a Q&A, so please keep in mind what questions you have for this case or for our speaker. Thank you very much for sharing with us today. Megan, the floor is yours.

 

Megan M. Wold:  Thank you, Wesley, and thank you to The Federalist Society for hosting today's teleforum. I’m looking forward to talking a bit more about some litigation that's currently pending in a fully briefed cert petition before the United States Supreme Court. The case, as you know, is the Archdiocese of Washington v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which is a mouthful, so we call them WMATA. Those of you who live in the DMV are likely familiar with WMATA because they operate our subway system, the bus lines, and other forms of public transportation in the greater metropolitan area, so Washington, Maryland, and Virginia.

 

      Just for a brief roadmap of the things I plan to discuss at the outset: I’m going to go through the factual background of events leading up to originating this case, some of the key legal arguments and precedents that the Archdiocese is relying upon, then some details about the progress of the case through the lower courts and the opinions that have been issued, and then just a brief update on the status of the cert petition.

 

      So the facts leading up to the start of this case originated in 2017. The Archdiocese has an annual Advent campaign. They were seeking to advertise that campaign in 2017. The campaign was called "Find the Perfect Gift," and one of the key elements of the campaign is a particular advertisement that you can see pictured in our cert petition if you care to pull that up. It's basically a dark background with the words "Find the Perfect Gift." It also has a hashtag, #PerfectGift, and a website, findtheperfectgift.org. And then there are stars in the sky and a small hill with the silhouettes of three shepherds and some sheep.

 

      The website, of course, linked to provides more information about the Archdiocese's Advent campaign, which was about spreading the news of Christ's coming during the season of Advent. Some of the things included were mass times, times when individuals could go to confession, opportunities for charitable giving, donating time and services, and other expressions about how to spend the Advent season from the Archdiocese's perspective.

 

      One of the key elements of the campaign was to advertise "Find the Perfect Gift" on backs of -- or I guess the backs and the sides of WMATA buses. It's a particularly unique advertising forum because the buses are actually traversing the city streets, and they go places in the city that it's hard to access through other forms of advertising. And because they're moving and people are interacting with them and seeing them on a regular basis during their commutes, they serve a different role than stationary billboards or other forms of advertising might.

     

      So in keeping with the goals of the project, at some point in the fall of 2017, the Archdiocese contacted WMATA through their advertising vendor to provide the visual content and ask for prices and how to run these ads on WMATA buses. And through a series of back and forths, the Archdiocese was refused access to this bus advertising forum. And the cited grounds were a particular guideline, one of many guidelines that WMATA has about which advertisements it will run on its buses and other billboards and transit subways and other forms of transit.

 

      And this particular guideline is Guideline 12: advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice, or belief. All such advertisements are prohibited, and that was the guideline cited to the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese inquired about appeal processes. There weren't any, so that was sort of a full-stop denial of the ability to run this ad campaign in time for Advent.

 

      By this time, because there had been some dallying on WMATA's part, we were down to just a matter of weeks before Advent season would commence. And of course Advent's only about a month before Christmas, so the timeline was, unfortunately, an emergency one. But the Archdiocese quickly put together its papers, and we filed in the D.C. District Court raising a variety of claims, First Amendment claims based on the freedom of speech but also free exercise of religion, a RIFRA claim, and then a corresponding claim under D.C. law.

 

      And that complaint went to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was our judge in the district court. We had about a week's worth of emergency flurry of briefing and a hearing on a preliminary injunction so that the Archdiocese could attempt to run its ads before Advent or during Advent and still not miss that cycle while the litigation was in progress. But Judge Berman Jackson denied that effort, and she basically accepted, essentially, all of WMATA's arguments.

 

      The key legal arguments being made were that series of U.S. Supreme Court precedents clearly foreclosed a rule like WMATA's. The precedents are Lamb's Chapel, Rosenberger, and Good News Club. In each of these cases, the U.S. Supreme Court confronted a rule that would basically exclude all religious speech or all religious activity in a particular government-run forum. The U.S. Supreme Court found in each of these cases that that type of exclusion, that broad exclusion of religion, was always impermissible, and each time it was because religion is more than just a topic about which people can speak. It's more than just a subject. It's also a perspective. It's a way of looking at the world. It's a direction of commenting on public issues. And because of that, it's also a viewpoint.

 

      So when there were subjects that were allowed in a particular government forum and there was a religious view that would comment on those allowable subjects, it was viewpoint discrimination to exclude the religious viewpoint solely because it was religious. That's a consistent holding throughout all three of those cases, and the Archdiocese has maintained that that settles the issue. It's just that simple.

 

      Judge Berman Jackson didn't see it that way, but she did decide the case quite promptly, so there was still time to continue emergency litigation and seek relief before the 2017 Advent and Christmas season concluded. So the Archdiocese did that on the next business day after Judge Berman Jackson issued her opinion. The Archdiocese appealed to the D.C. Circuit seeking a stay pending appeal -- or, sorry, seeking an injunction pending appeal so that they could obtain relief but also an expedited appeal on the merits. And then the Archdiocese received a motions panel for that preliminary injunction motion.

 

      The briefing, again, was very rapid on an emergency basis. Again, that was denied, but the D.C. Circuit panel granted expedited consideration of the merits of the case. So unfortunately, at that point, all avenues of preliminary relief were exhausted, I suppose, aside from the Supreme Court, but enough time had run that there was very little time to seek an additional layer of review. So the 2017 Christmas season has now come and gone without any of the "Find the Perfect Gift" advertisements running on public transit in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. But the D.C. Circuit granted expedited relief, so briefing immediately progressed on to the merits.

 

      Then in the spring of 2018, I think it was February or March of 2018, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit heard arguments in the case. Again, this was an expedited briefing schedule, expedited scheduling of oral argument, so everything was still happening pretty quickly. But following oral argument, no decision was rendered for quite some time. Finally, in July of that year, two judges, Judges Rogers and Wilkins, issued an opinion together essentially affirming what Judge Berman Jackson had done in refusing the Archdiocese's claims, all of them.

 

      What's interesting about this is the original three-judge panel that heard the case at oral argument was composed of Rogers, then-Judge Kavanaugh, and Judge Wilkins. Of course, by this time, the time summer rolled around, Judge Kavanaugh had been nominated to the Supreme Court, and he had withdrawn from all of the work that he was doing on then pending D.C. Circuit cases. And it was in that interim period between when he had withdrawn from his work and when he was later confirmed to the Supreme Court that the remaining members of the panel, Judges Rogers and Wilkins, issued their opinion. They've included a footnote that said that Circuit Judge Kavanaugh was a member of the panel at the time the case was argued but did not participate in the opinion. So that's how the eventual opinion comes to be drafted by only two members of the court, signed by only two members of the D.C. Circuit.

 

      We, on behalf of the Archdiocese, did then seek en banc review. And that was also denied, but we received a dissent from the denial of en banc written by Judge Griffith and signed by Judge Katsas, which sort of laid out our arguments and endorsed them, that Lamb's Chapel, Rosenberger, and Good News Club do indeed decide the issue, that there really wasn't any question about that, and that the Archdiocese should have been permitted to run its advertisement on buses.

 

      Really, the critical point in understanding the viewpoint discrimination argument is that this very same advertisement could be run by any number of secular advertisers. For example, Macy's could run an advertisement saying, "Find the Perfect Gift," including a picture like the one that we've included, and it could have a website link to Macys.com where, of course, you could shop for various commercial items for Christmas. That advertisement would be accepted by WMATA, and there's really been no question of that. WMATA has never denied that. But the Archdiocese is prohibited from running its advertisement because it's deemed to be religious on the quote, unquote, "subject matter of religion," which is wholesale excluded from the forum.

 

      Now, of course, that's obviously viewpoint discrimination because the only thing that's preventing the Archdiocese from running its advertisement, as opposed to another commercial advertisement, is the viewpoint that the Archdiocese is seeking to promote. Because it's a religious viewpoint, the Archdiocese is not permitted to run it, but a secular advertiser would be able to. So that's really the height of viewpoint discrimination. There shouldn't be any question about that, although that view has yet to prevail in the lower courts.

 

      There are some other interesting factual issues that do play into the analysis as well. Keeping in mind this entire litigation has been on an emergency basis, there is still the underlying case pending in the District Court. There's been some discovery, but that's by no means finished. And at this point in the case, there's no discovery materials actually at issue in any of the opinions being considered.

 

      Nonetheless, when the Archdiocese filed its case, we had knowledge of a few other advertisements, so not access to the thousands of things that  WMATA has allowed since they instituted their guidelines, but access to a few that were observable on buses around the city. And those include an advertisement for a Christian radio station, an advertisement on behalf of the Salvation Army for their Red Kettle Campaign, which is their Christmas charitable giving campaign. Now, WMATA has allowed both of those advertisements, and it's attempted to draw distinctions about what exactly makes those different than the Archdiocese's. But of course, that's far from plain why those would be treated any differently.

 

      The advertisement for Christian radio says, "Always Encouraging" and has the name and numbers associated with that radio station. And that in and of itself maybe doesn't convey the religious viewpoint, but the website certainly does. That's something that WMATA has relied on to deny the Archdiocese its advertisement, the fact that it links to a website that contains religious content, but that wasn't sufficient to ban the Christian radio station from its advertising.

 

      Likewise, WMATA interprets the Salvation Army advertisement to be solely about charitable giving, even though the Salvation Army, by its very name, is a Christian denomination concerned with the salvation of souls, and it's certainly a religious charitable campaign that the web address links to religious information. But there, again, WMATA did not deny that advertisement.

 

      We also had an advertisement for a yoga studio that relied on the word "mantra" in the advertisement and other similar types of language at the website, which, again, has a religious background, even if many people today wouldn't immediately think of the religious connotations of the practice of yoga. But WMATA was fine running that advertisement, although it continued to deny the Archdiocese.

 

      Then we also had amicus support in the form of a brief from the Franciscan Monastery, which is a really beautiful church and facility located here in Washington D.C. It's a tourist attraction, but one not typically frequented because it's lesser known about. They sought to run an advertisement on WMATA buses that would have had just a picture of the location, the name, and the hours, and a web address so that visitors to the city would learn that the Franciscan Monastery existed and might choose to go and visit it.

 

      WMATA also denied that advertisement, which is sort of almost the hardest one to understand of the whole group because any other non-religious organization would certainly be able to advertise their hours of operation on WMATA, their location on WMATA buses. But because the Franciscan Monastery is a Christian organization and has religious content at its website and is religious in its nature as a speaker, WMATA denied that advertisement to run on buses.

 

      So those are some of the nonsensical lines that WMATA has been trying to draw, which prove a couple of things in the case. One, that guideline falls in the no religious speech policy that WMATA tries to enforce is, in fact, enforced unreasonably, and that's contrary to law. But also that it really can't be enforced reasonably because what WMATA fundamentally doesn't understand is what the Supreme Court has repeatedly said. Religion is more than just a subject matter, it's a viewpoint on a variety of different subjects. So when you have a forum that lets some speech in, you have to allow religious viewpoint on those topics.

 

      That doesn't mean, of course, that government cannot limit forums that it runs. Government can absolutely limit a particular forum. There's an entire architecture of First Amendment precedent that deals with that. But when you create a forum, if that forum does have limitations, if it is properly considered a limited public forum, then whatever topics are allowed inside, you have to allow speakers to address those topics from a religious perspective. And creating some kind of "because it's religious" ban simply won't do. That's a brief paraphrase of the concurrence that Justice Scalia wrote in Good News Club. And he's certainly right, and the point holds true today. And based on the Court's cases that "because it's religious" is not a sufficient reason to exclude speech from a public forum. So I won't delve too much deeper into the arguments of the case, although I'm happy to do that if others have questions about any specific argument that we're making, cases that we rely on, and so on.

 

      So just to come full circle, I guess, with the status today, the Archdiocese has filed a cert petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. WMATA chose to file a brief in opposition. And then the Archdiocese filed its reply just earlier this week. The case has now been distributed to the Court for its consideration, and it will be taken up at the long conference, which is on October 1. And typically, the public will hear what cases the Court chooses to grant or what other actions it takes at the long conference a few days afterward. I think it's usually that Friday or the following Monday. So at this point, the Archdiocese is just waiting to hear the progress, or to hear whatever decision the Court might reach at its long conference.

 

      And of course, there are a few possibilities. The Court could certainly grant the case. We could see the case being held over for another conference or two if there's to be a separate writing, or a few other possibilities. But certainly, the Archdiocese is seeking a grant, and we think the case clearly qualifies for that. The D.C. Circuit's decision is contrary to three decided Supreme Court precedents that have repeatedly held the very same thing, are on all fours with the subject matter of the case, and in fact, the lower courts generally, by and large, follow those decisions, with the exception of the D.C. Circuit here and a Ninth Circuit example that we highlight in the brief. So there is a circuit split.

 

      The issues are undoubtedly important. We're talking about the First Amendment freedom to speak and freedom of religion. The fact that the Archdiocese has been constrained from speaking its message in an important public forum for two Christmases now and soon to be a third Christmas is egregious, and that's a violation of rights that really can't be repaired because we all understand that being prohibited from speaking is its own type of irreparable harm. So we're certainly hoping for a grant, and we'll be sure to keep everyone apprised of when the Court makes a decision based on its long conference.

 

      With that, I think I'll stop talking, and I'll let others ask questions.

 

Wesley Hodges:  Fantastic. Thank you so much for your remarks, Megan. Here is our first caller.

 

Mitchell Keiter:  Hi. Mitchell Keiter calling from Los Angeles. How did the Court's recent trademark cases like Matal v. Tam and Iancu v. Brunetti play into this? I mean, would the buses need to carry messages that are hostile to a particular religion? Would they need to carry messages with profanity or quasi profanity? How broad is the imperative of viewpoint nondiscrimination?

 

Megan M. Wold:  Thank you, Mitchell. Yeah, we do cite some of those cases in our cert petition, and I think they support the arguments that the Archdiocese is making, mostly because the government can't pick and choose which viewpoint it's willing to communicate and which points it's not. That's kind of the heart of First Amendment freedom of speech protections is that viewpoint is always a prohibited means of discriminating among speech.

 

      Now, certainly, the point that you're making about the possibility of profanity or violent speech, speech that's critical of different religious groups could be a problem, and that's something that WMATA has repeatedly raised in the litigation and said, essentially, "We need to have these types of restrictions, and it's important for us to restrict religion on buses because it's something that could incite the public. It's something that we could see problems with complaints from ridership, and so on.

 

      Now, the problem with that is kind of the critical problem always in the free speech atmosphere, which is if you have a problem with profanity or problem with a particular type of speech, the best way to regulate that is to go after that particular type of speech, not to pick a broader category like religious speech and exclude it wholesale, and particularly not to pick religious speech because it's protected not once but twice by the First Amendment, both as freedom of speech and as free exercise.

 

      It's never been the Archdiocese's position that there are no restrictions that are available to WMATA. There may well be restrictions, and in fact, Guideline 12, as the name implies, is one of a long list of guidelines. But excluding religious speech is something that the government cannot do. It's impermissible for them to exclude religious speech where other topics are allowed inside the forum.

 

      So for example, one point that we had made in our brief was that WMATA would be free to limit its advertising forum to transportation policy, for example. WMATA took issue with that because they said, "Even under that approach, if we limited this forum to transportation policy, we'd have to allow an advertisement for an Orthodox Jewish community who has a position on whether or not you should use the public transportation on a Saturday."

 

      In our responsive reply brief, we said, "Well, yeah. That's kind of the point. You may be able to limit your forum, and perhaps you do limit it to transportation policy. But then you have to allow religious viewpoints on that particular topic, even if it's unlikely, even if there aren't that many religions that care to comment on transportation policy. If there is one that does, then you have to allow that one in." So really, the Archdiocese's argument has never been about the particular contours of the forum so much as it is about excluding religious viewpoints once a government has decided what those contours are going to be.

 

Wesley Hodges:  Thank you very much, caller. We appreciate your question. Here's our second caller of the day.

 

Gary Wheaton:  Gary Wheaton in New Hampshire again. Related to the last question, wouldn't the case come down to similar Christmas displays, like the last caller was asking about opening it up to nondenominational displays so that the government doesn't look like they're supporting the religion? One question, and if I may, another question. I don't remember if this advertisement's inside the bus or outside the bus, and obviously, how would that change it? Obviously, the inside of the bus is a captive audience—correct?—and could be argued that way. Those are my two questions. Thanks.

 

Megan M. Wold:  Thank you, Gary. I think your first part of your question, getting at similar Christmas displays and an Establishment Clause problem, is -- well, I guess maybe I'm adding that to your question. But what I'm hearing there is that there could be an Establishment Clause problem if the government is allowing religious Christmas advertisements or perhaps an advertisement urging in the boldest kind of way that there should be -- that you should worship Christ this Christmas or something, kind of very in your face and clearly religious, I'm not sure how thoroughly the Establishment Clause questions may have been [inaudible 23:31] in this place. I don't remember them coming across predominantly in the briefing, but I wouldn't think that it would be a problem in large part because WMATA is very clear in its guidelines that no advertisement can claim to have WMATA's endorsement.

 

      So they've never argued that the things that they put on the outsides of buses are government speech or imply a government endorsement at all. In fact, they explicitly disclaim that. I also think it would be unlikely that a member of the public would think that WMATA endorses every message that runs on its buses because you commonly see them advertising cell phone plans, and where you might to go college, and products to buy, shows to see, art exhibits. It's just all sorts of things, none of which carry an inherent government connotation. I think people recognize when you see an advertising space that that's a space in which advertisers are permitted to speak, not the government speaking.

 

      And then your second question about inside the bus versus outside the bus is an astute one. There is a relevant Supreme Court precedent called Lehman which was about railcar advertising or advertising inside of railcars. That was a plurality decision and basically said that the government has to have the ability to regulate or to control, as the purveyor of streetcars, the content that's inside the streetcar, in part resting on that captive audience argument that the people in the streetcar are held captive to it, and so sort of the government, like any other profiteer, I suppose, when they're choosing which ad copy to select, they can exercise some control over that because it's the inside of a streetcar.

 

      That's different than our circumstance because here, the advertisements are on the outside of buses. So you've actually got a bus travelling, carrying an advertisement in a traditional public forum. The bus is on the streets. That's usually the place where we think First Amendment freedoms are most protected, the ability of people to petition on the sidewalk, to walk up and down the streets displaying their messages to their fellow citizens. So we don't think Lehman is applicable for that reason in particular. There really is no captive audience problem because buses are just freely moving about the city.

 

Wesley Hodges:  Thank you so much. Here's our next caller.

 

Caller 3:  Megan, as I understand the procedural history of the case, you're still at the preliminary injunction stage or on review of that. So how do you propose to convince the Court to take the case now as opposed to after a final judgement?

 

Megan M. Wold:  Yeah, it's a great question. So you are correct. We are still at the PI stage, and the cert petition that's fully briefed to the Court now is coming off of those preliminary injunction decisions. So in the event that the Court denies the petition, the case doesn't go away. We end up back in District Court where we now have access to discovery and will be continuing to litigate the case against WMATA in that forum.

 

      I think the reason that the Court shouldn't care about the particular claims that we're raising in this cert petition is that they're really legal claims that depend on undisputed facts. There's no dispute over the particular advertisement that the Archdiocese sought to display on WMATA buses. There's no dispute about the reason that WMATA denied that. There's no dispute about the other particular advertisements that we've raised that have been. So in terms of this universe of facts, there's really no dispute about them. There's only dispute about their legal meaning. And that's not going to change if we go back on remand and have more discovery. These core claims will remain the same.

 

      Now, we firmly believe that if we have discovery in the lower courts, our claims are only going to get better because we'll be able to layer on additional factual arguments. And having access to all of the advertisements that WMATA has ever run on its buses since it instituted its no religious speech policy is only going to help the Archdiocese by showing all of the different discrepancies in the way that WMATA has been enforcing these as the examples that we do have already indicate.

 

      So really, certainly, there are cases in which the PI status of a petition would be a demerit and would suggest that the Court should wait to answer the question. This isn't one of them because as to the questions we're raising, there really are no disputed facts. They're purely legal issues. We may be able to add facts to them later, but they're able to be decided right now as is, and they're not going to change based on further discovery or factual development in the lower courts.

 

      And also, layering on top of that the fact that the constitutional interests at stake are the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion, things that can't be compensated for. That means that there's a real penalty that the Archdiocese bears if the Court decides to wait simply because it wants the case to continue muddling its way through the lower courts. The Archdiocese is presently restricted from not only running its "Find the Perfect Gift" advertisement on WMATA buses, but from running any number of other advertising campaigns.

 

      In the past, before WMATA had this no religious speech policy, the Archdiocese had run a "Leave the Light On" campaign, which was a Lenten campaign that was sort of analogous to its Advent campaign. It had also sought previously to advertise Pope Francis's visit to Washington D.C. And then you could imagine examples like the Franciscan Monastery's example but coming from the Archdiocese seeking to advertise hours of operation, location, and things.

     

      All of that is off limits right now so long as the lower court decisions stand and the Supreme Court does not intervene. So it's important that the Court intervene at this stage and really, the PI nature of this case, in particular, is not an issue. Although, I certainly take your point that in some other circumstances, it might be.

 

Caller 3:  Thank you. If I could have brief follow up, your answer sort of suggests that the case might actually be ripe for like cross motions for summary judgement that would put the case in that posture for the Supreme Court.

 

Megan M. Wold:  I guess I haven't thought about it in a while just because we haven't been as active in the trial court, but I wouldn't exclude that possibility. I suppose there could be -- certainly, the legal arguments the Archdiocese is making, we think, stand on their own, but I think we would benefit from further discovery in the case, so I think we would anticipate seeking that discovery, wanting to know more about exactly how WMATA makes its decisions.

 

      For example, I don't have this discovery, so I don't know, but we've seen other cases recently before the Court where the Court has said that particular decisions that were taken against religious speakers or religious actors were done on the basis of malice. We don't have any discovery that would let us know if that might be the case in the lower courts, but it's something that we could consider pursuing.

 

      So of course, I can't comment on what WMATA thinks. Maybe if we go back down, they would seek to file a motion for summary judgement, which we certainly don't think would be granted. But the legal issues, we think, are teed up at the PI stage and ready for the Court to intervene.

 

Wesley Hodges:  Thank you, caller. We do appreciate the participation. Seeing no immediate questions from the audience, Megan, I'd like to turn the mike back to you. Do you have any closing thoughts or things you'd like to dive in a little more deep before we wrap up today?

 

 

Megan M. Wold:  I guess there was one thing that I did forget to mention, but we had really helpful amicus support, both in front of the D.C. Circuit and now for our cert petition, so I just wanted to mention that. I think probably most notably, the U.S. government came to the D.C. Circuit in support of the Archdiocese's case and said that this was clearly viewpoint discrimination, that the Archdiocese should be permitted to run its "Find the Perfect Gift" advertisement on WMATA buses.

 

      And that was a particularly valuable insight, not only because it comes from the U.S. government, but because the U.S. government operates its own collection of limited public forums, and so it belied what WMATA had been saying about all of the ways in which the Archdiocese's position would overly restrict WMATA. The U.S. government doesn't see things that way, and they came in in support of our side of the case. And then, again, we've had, I think, three amicus briefs filed in support of our cert petition, which is a tremendous help.

 

      And just in the event that there are any listeners who might have participated in any of that briefing, the Archdiocese is grateful for the support. It really does make a difference when it comes to cert petitions and the likelihood of them being granted, so we always appreciate it when other practitioners around the country pay attention to a case like this, see an important question, maybe have a client or are willing to take on a client pro bono to make a case for why restrictions like this infringe religious freedom and the freedom of speech.

 

      And if anybody's interested, I suppose, in participating going forward, I'd be happy to be in touch. You can contact me on the website and talk about future amicus support, either in the Supreme Court or in the lower courts. And just overall, thanks to everyone for listening, for tuning in. We appreciate the attention to the case, and we're hoping for a great result.

 

Wesley Hodges:  Wonderful. Well, it really is our privilege to have you today, Megan. So on behalf of The Federalist Society, I would like to thank you for the benefit of your valuable time and expertise. We welcome all listener feedback by email at info@fedsoc.org. Thank you all for joining us. This call is now adjourned.

 

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