Keister v. Bell
Description: University of Alabama officials banned Mr. Rodney Keister from engaging in religious speech on a sidewalk that ran along public streets and also happened to border several university buildings. Officials told Mr. Keister he could not engage in that speech without providing a 10-day notice and obtaining a permit.
ADF urges US Supreme Court to uphold freedom of speech on public sidewalks
The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch regarding a friend-of-the-court brief ADF attorneys, along with co-counsel William Esser at Parker Roe Adams & Bernstein, LLP, filed Wednesday with the U.S. Supreme Court in Keister v. Bell on behalf of Young America’s Foundation, supporting the constitutionally protected right of free speech on public sidewalks alongside college campuses:
“Public city sidewalks that happen to border a university’s campus are still public, open to anyone to freely walk and talk. University of Alabama officials have no authority to restrict an individual from speaking peacefully on a public sidewalk, along a public street—an area that has always been open to anyone wishing to speak. We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to take this case and affirm that public sidewalks along public streets are open for anyone’s expression, no government permission is required.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom. Bursch has argued 12 U.S. Supreme Court cases and more than 30 state supreme court cases since 2011, and a recent study concluded that among all frequent Supreme Court advocates who did not work for the federal government, he had the 3rd highest success rate for persuading justices to adopt his legal position. Bursch served as solicitor general for the state of Michigan from 2011-2013. He has argued multiple Michigan Supreme Court cases in eight of the last ten terms and has successfully litigated hundreds of matters nationwide, including six with at least $1 billion at stake. As part of his private firm, Bursch Law PLLC, he has represented Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-profile cases, primarily on appeal. He received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1997 from the University of Minnesota Law School and is admitted to practice in numerous federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.