LCMS Amicus Brief Directory

LCMS Amicus Briefs


Amicus curiae (often called amicus or amici briefs), according to former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is a Latin phrase “that literally means ‘friend of the court’ — someone who is not a party to the litigation, but who believes that the court’s decision may affect its interest.”

Filing amicus briefs can achieve several purposes: (1) provide helpful information to the court regarding a certain case, (b) alert the court to the ways in which the case may affect people outside of the two parties involved and (c) bring the media’s and citizens’ attention to an important issue.

From time to time The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod joins amicus briefs for cases in which the outcome is likely to affect the church. Below is a collection of briefs to which the LCMS has joined. In most cases, the text of the entire brief is available.

  • Read Board of Directors policy related to LCMS participation in amicus briefs.
  • LCMS Board of Directors Policy 5.8.1 Participation as Amicus Curiae (July 17, 1998)

    Participation by the Synod and/or Its Agencies in Judicial Proceedings as Amicus Curiae or in Support of a Member Congregation.

    It is suggested from time to time to the officers and various agencies of the Synod that the Synod, or an agency of the Synod, participate as an amicus curiae (or friend of the court) in judicial proceedings in which legal questions are presented involving issues in which the Synod has an interest. Other situations present the opportunity for the Synod to become involved through or on behalf of a member congregation(s) in addressing such issues before the courts. A position of the Synod should in proper circumstances be developed or made known in judicial proceedings where legal principles are being formulated which will have a bearing upon the position of the Synod and/or its congregations in matters of public interest. The time available for a decision concerning whether or not to participate in judicial proceedings does not ordinarily permit an independent consideration by the entire Board of Directors of each situation. The following policy applies to all agencies of the Synod as defined on the cover page for Section 5 of this Policy Manual. Participation in judicial proceedings as amicus curiae or in support of a member congregation shall only be by the Synod, and shall not be by any agency of the Synod.

    1. The President, in consultation with available St. Louis based officers, i.e. First Vice President, Secretary, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Administrative Officer, is authorized to direct the participation of the Synod as amicus curiae, or in such other capacity as they might determine, in judicial proceedings when, in their judgment, such participation is justified on the basis of the following considerations:
    2. The position of the Synod on the ultimate policy issues involved is sufficiently established to be formally and officially presented;
    3. The legal issues are such as to permit an exposition of the position of the Synod on the ultimate policy issues as well as the legal issues; and
    4. The importance and general applicability of the public issues involved warrant the expenditure of funds for the legal and other costs to be incurred. The Synod shall be represented in such actions by general counsel for the Synod, or by special counsel selected in accordance with Policy. The Chief Administrative Officer shall report to the Board each decision to participate in legal proceedings as amicus curiae, or in support of any member congregation.

  • Read amicus brief category descriptions
    • Clergy Housing Allowance — Cases in support of the constitutionality of the “clergy housing exclusion” or “clergy housing allowance,” which excludes from income taxation the cash compensation provided to “ministers of the gospel” (clergy) toward the cost of their housing.
    • Contraceptive Mandate (HHS Mandate) — Cases challenging the constitutionality of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires group health insurance plans to provide coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptives, including some that are abortifacients such as Plan B (the “day after pill”) Ella (the “week after pill”).
    • Prevention of Child Abuse — Cases supporting a broad definition of child pornography under criminal laws to maximize penalties for this form of child abuse.
    • Religious Liberty — First Amendment cases, including issues related to freedom of religion, church autonomy, judicial deference on church polity, freedom of speech, and the ministerial exception.
    • Right to Life — Cases opposing abortion and other life issues based on a moral principle based on the belief that a human being has the right to live and should not to be unjustly killed by another human being. This is central to debates on the issues of euthanasia, capital punishment, abortion, self-defense and the morality of war.
    • Marriage — Cases supporting federal and state laws that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

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