Brian Kelsey - Liberty Justice Center

Brian Kelsey

Brian Kelsey is a Managing 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

USDA sued over racist loan assistance program

To schedule an interview, contact Kristen Williamson at media@libertyjusticecenter.org or 773-809-4403. JACKSON, Tenn. (June 15, 2021) — A Tennessee farmer has sued the United States Department of Agriculture over a loan forgiveness program made available exclusively to minority farmers. Farmers and ranchers with loans from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) who do not meet the racial requirements

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Court filings present dueling visions of school choice in Vermont

This article by Alex Hanson appeared on March 18, 2021 on The Valley News The main line of defense asserted by the state of Vermont and school districts being sued for not offering school choice has roots in the Upper Valley. The Vermont Supreme Court’s 1983 decision in Mason v. Thetford School Board contains a

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Racehorse owners, trainers sue to stop federal authority illegally given to private group

U.S. Congress created a private organization with federal authority to make laws, issue subpoenas and collect money

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Tennessee Supreme Court agrees to hear scholarship program case appeal

Today, the Tennessee Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from the Court of Appeals on the constitutionality of Governor Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account pilot program to provide low-income students in Nashville and Memphis with a $7,000 scholarship to attend the school of their choice.

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