Attorneys for Police Officer Punished for Sharing Views on Homosexual Marriage Warn Metropolis of ‘Unconstitutional’ Actions

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL— A former police officer’s legal professionals are calling on a Georgia police division to make adjustments after it positioned a rookie officer on administrative depart for utilizing social media to specific his views on marriage.  

“The Metropolis of Port Wentworth and the Port Wentworth Police Division ought to concern a public assertion committing to respect the First Modification rights of its law enforcement officials and announce an official change of coverage,” attorneys with First Liberty Institute and former Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., wrote Monday in a letter to Mayor Gary Norton and Maj. Bradwick Lee Sherrod, the town’s assistant police chief.  

First Liberty Institute, a nationwide authorized group defending spiritual liberty, represents Jacob Kersey, who resigned as an officer with the Port Wentworth Police Division in January after dealing with backlash for sharing his private, biblical view of marriage in a Fb put up.

“God designed marriage. Marriage refers to Christ and the church,” Kersey, 19, wrote on Fb whereas off obligation initially of the 12 months. “That’s why there isn’t any such factor as gay marriage.”  

The Every day Sign first reported on Kersey’s case.

The Port Wentworth Police Division, serving the town simply outdoors Savannah, positioned Kersey on paid depart when the younger officer refused to take away the Fb put up.

Per week later, Kersey met with the management of the Police Division. He advised The Every day Sign that he was knowledgeable that he now not was on administrative depart and wouldn’t be fired, however that he couldn’t share opinions on social media that may very well be thought of offensive.   

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Kersey stated he was advised he might put up Scripture verses, however couldn’t work as one of many Police Division’s officers if he continued to share his “interpretation or opinion on Scripture if it was deemed offensive.”

He stated he additionally was advised that the police pressure was growing a brand new coverage to information officers on what they had been and weren’t allowed to put up on social media.   

On Jan. 17, Kersey formally resigned from the Port Wentworth Police Division, later telling The Every day Sign that he made the choice “as a result of I simply didn’t suppose it smart to return and play their recreation.” And, he added, “the best way issues went down, I didn’t really feel as if my command actually had my again.” 

Now, Kersey and his attorneys are asking the mayor of Port Wentworth and the Police Division to vary its coverage and defend the First Modification rights of its workers.  

Their letter to Norton and Sherrod reads:

Requiring Mr. Kersey to censor his personal, off-duty spiritual speech to stay employed as a police officer is an unconstitutional violation of Mr. Kersey’s rights beneath the Free Train and Free Speech Clauses of the First Modification. The Metropolis of Port Wentworth and the Port Wentworth Police Division ought to concern a public assertion committing to respect the First Modification rights of its law enforcement officials and announce an official change of coverage.

The Port Wentworth Police Division’s therapy of Kersey “was blatantly unconstitutional” as a result of it violated each these clauses of the First Modification to the Structure, Stephanie Taub, senior counsel with First Liberty Institute, advised The Every day Sign.  

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Kersey advised The Every day Sign he’s sharing his story and calling for change on the Police Division as a result of “that is concerning the subsequent officer that that is going to occur to.”

“There’s little question in my thoughts that if this … goes unchallenged and if it’s swept beneath the rug, this may proceed to occur to different officers, not solely at Port Wentworth but additionally different cities,”  the previous police officer stated.

“In case you can’t speak about your faith, should you can’t communicate your faith, then you definately don’t have spiritual freedom,” Kersey stated.  

First Liberty Institute has provided to work with Port Wentworth “to tell the [Police] Division of its obligations beneath the Structure” to create a speech coverage that’s “totally in line with First Modification protections,” the legal professionals’ letter to the mayor and assistant police chief says. 

“What we’re doing right here is we’re calling them to the desk,” Taub stated, “calling them to do the correct factor, to take accountability for his or her actions and to formally change their coverage in order that no officer is subjected to this type of anti-religious discrimination sooner or later.” 

Requested whether or not First Liberty Institute would contemplate submitting a lawsuit towards Port Wentworth if the town and its police pressure don’t reply favorably, Taub stated: “We’re contemplating all of our choices, and we’re hopeful that we will resolve this with the town with out having to go there.” 

Lower than every week after The Every day Sign reported that Kersey had resigned over the backlash that greeted his Fb put up on marriage, Port Wentworth Police Chief Matt Libby introduced his retirement in a brief letter.  

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Following his retirement announcement, Libby advised WSAV-TV (Information 3) that it “was a pressured retirement, it’s not what I deliberate.”  

WSAV, an NBC affiliate, reported that it obtained a doc from the town administrator outlining Libby’s misconduct and violations of coverage.  

The doc accuses Libby of spending greater than $66,000 of the town’s cash on unauthorized purchases, together with over $19,000 value of software program.

When requested why he believes Libby retired when he did, Kersey advised The Every day Sign that “the timing was very fascinating,” given the truth that his story gained nationwide consideration within the days main as much as the police chief’s announcement.  

“I’m not denying … what the town says that they discovered,” Jacob stated.

However he added that if metropolis officers had been to “say that they pressured [Libby] to retire as a result of they don’t agree along with his dealing with of my scenario, nicely, they’re selecting a facet.”

“And I definitely don’t suppose the town desires to do this, and that’s why they’ve been silent,”  Kersey stated.

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