Yesterday, the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom (CLF) filed our reply brief at the Court of Appeals in the case of Breedlove v. Warren. At issue is whether certain actions of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) violated the religious liberties of magistrates. In its principal brief, the Attorney General argued that the AOC has no authority over magistrates, and therefore cannot be held responsible for violations of their rights. Our response to this argument is fairly straightforward:
The Director took an action. By his own admission, he gave legal advice to magistrates and the court officials who nominate, appoint, and supervise magistrates. This was not a random conversation at a cocktail party or a letter to the editor in a local newspaper. It was not even a scholarly article offering the Director’s abstract thoughts on how the law should work in light of recent federal court decisions. The Director sent out two memos on official letterhead in his capacity as the head official of the administrative agency that runs the North Carolina Court System to that entire system. Plaintiffs reasonably felt compelled to resign under duress based on the Director’s legal advice. They allege that they would not have done so if they had not received the Director’s memos and discussed the instructions therein with their supervisor. Plaintiffs further allege that the Director’s acts in writing and disseminating these memos led to the harm of them losing their jobs and having their constitutional rights violated.
We should find out within the next few days whether the case will be set for oral argument. You can read all of the briefs in Breedlove, as well as all other CLF litigation documents, at the CLF litigation library.