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.

Contact Brian at bkelsey@libertyjusticecenter.org.

Resources

AP: Tennessee Voucher Program Continues to be Blocked

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee won’t be able to implement a contentious school voucher program while the state continues to fight back constitutional challenges over the law that would allow parents to use public tax dollars on private school tuition, according to a ruling issued Tuesday. The latest decision from the Tennessee Court of Appeals

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Liberty Justice Center attorneys plan to appeal ruling to block scholarships for low-income students

A group of parents and school leaders is fighting to protect the program so their children and students have the opportunity to escape poor-performing public schools.

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WMC 5: Judge Strikes Down School Voucher Law, Declaring it Unconstitutional

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – A judge delivered a major blow to Tennessee’s school voucher law, declaring it unconstitutional. Opponents of the law hailed the ruling as a major victory, while supporters vowed to continue fighting for it. The Education Savings Account Act (ESA), which was a centerpiece of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s education reform plan,

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WMC 5: Judge Strikes Down School Voucher Law, Declaring It Unconstitutional

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – A judge delivered a major blow to Tennessee’s school voucher law, declaring it unconstitutional. Opponents of the law hailed the ruling as a major victory, while supporters vowed to continue fighting for it. The Education Savings Account Act (ESA), which was a centerpiece of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s education reform plan,

Read more...

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