Brian Kelsey

Brian Kelsey is a Senior Attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. He litigates constitutional law cases in federal court, advocating for the rights of economic liberty and free speech throughout the country. Brian has led almost fifteen cases filed by LJC to defend the rights created by LJC’s seminal case, Janus v. AFSCME. He was also a lead attorney on Illinois Opportunity Project v. Holden, which successfully struck down New Jersey’s law requiring disclosure of donations to public interest nonprofits. Brian partnered with Daniel Suhr to spearhead LJC’s school choice practice, starting with two cases in Brian’s home state of Tennessee that defend a 2019 school choice law for which Brian was a critical advocate in the State Senate and drafted the final language of the bill. 

Brian has served as Tennessee State Senator for the Memphis area since December 2009. He is the only legislator in Tennessee history to sponsor two successful amendments to the state constitution: one to forever prohibit a state income tax and another to establish a Founding Father’s model for selecting appellate judges. In addition, Brian sponsored and passed Governor Bill Haslam’s 2011 tort reform bill as well as 2014 legislation that banned Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in Tennessee. In 2020, he sponsored a third constitutional amendment to put Tennesseeans’ “right to work” in the state constitution. Prior to serving in the State Senate, Brian served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 2004 to 2009. 

Prior to working for Liberty Justice Center, Brian started and led his own law firm, where he focused on commercial litigation defense. He began his career as a civil litigator at a medium-sized law firm in Memphis.

Brian has taught constitutional law and government relations at the University of Memphis and its law school, the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. He is an avid college basketball fan, having received his B.A. with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his J.D. from Georgetown University, where he was president of the Federalist Society and interned in the White House Counsel’s Office under President George W. Bush. He was hired for the job by now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. More recently, he has served on the board of the Memphis Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society. 

Brian is a member of the Tennessee Bar and is admitted to practice law in several federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Cook County Republican Party files lawsuit challenging Illinois’ new Vote By Mail program

The Cook County Republican Party has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Illinois’ new vote-by-mail program, arguing that the validity of election results will be in doubt if this program moves forward. 


Hearing held regarding funds set to be allocated from emergency fund for private school tuition

On July 20, McMaster announced he would be using $32 million received in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds to provide one-time scholarships for students to attend private schools during the 2020-21 school year.


Palmetto Promise Institute fights to restore SAFE Grants for South Carolina students

Palmetto Promise Institute asked an Orangeburg, S.C. judge to allow the governor’s new Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants program to move forward. If the judge sides with Palmetto Promise, thousands of students from moderate and low-income families will have the opportunity to attend a school of their choice this fall.


Liberty Justice Center attorneys applaud U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to protect school choice

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an historic ruling in support of school choice and the First Amendment. In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court reversed the Montana Supreme Court’s decision and ruled that students should be allowed to use state-supported scholarships to enroll in religious schools.


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