A county official in Texas is challenging a U.S. Postal Services regulation banning religious content on personalized custom stamps.
Susan Fletcher, a devout Christian who serves as the Collin County Precinct 1 commissioner, filed a complaint last month with the U.S. District Court of East Texas in hopes it will protect “her constitutional rights to free speech and religious liberty granted under the First Amendment.”
The lawsuit says Fletcher wanted to create personalized postage stamps to reflect her faith during the Christmas season.
USPS allows customers to use third-party companies to create stamps designed by citizens.
One stamp design Flethcer created for Christmas features a Nativity scene under text saying: “Emmanuel God with us.”
Fletcher said she tried to create a stamp that reflected her religious beliefs through PhotoStamps.com, a subsidiary of Stamps.com.
However, the lawsuit states that Fletcher’s stamps were rejected by Stamps.com and USPS because of a regulation that prohibits images or text that contain a depiction of religious content. USPS reserves the right to determine whether a stamp design meets the criteria.
The lawsuit argues that the policy allows secular depictions on the same topics.
“Ms. Fletcher has a sincerely held religious belief that she is compelled by the Lord to use her God-given artistic abilities to advance a religious message in all available communications media, including custom stamps for various holiday and celebratory occasions,” the lawsuit argues.
“Ms. Fletcher considers these stamps to be an essential aspect of her religious practices and Christmastime message for friends and family.”
Fletcher is represented by Winston & Strawn, LLP, a law firm that participates in a national network affiliated with the First Liberty Institute, a leading nonprofit legal group devoted to defending First Amendment rights.
“USPS offers its own version of a religious stamp, but, ironically, it will not allow religious Americans to personalize stamps containing an expression of their own religious beliefs for their own use,” Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at First Liberty Institute, said in a statement. “This regulation by the USPS not only chills speech, it silences it.”
The lawsuit contends that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that “this kind of categorical exclusion of religious perspectives on permitted topics constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee.”
The lawsuit further states that the stamp regulation “creates a substantial burden” on Fletcher’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The lawsuit asks the federal court to enjoin enforcement of the “illegal aspects” of the regulation and order the USPS to allow PhotoStamps.com to print Fletcher’s holiday stamps.
No comment will be provided by USPS, as the agency has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
In addition to the Nativity scene design, the court document explains that Fletcher also created customized stamp designs for other federal and Texas holidays.
Fletcher’s Texas Independence Day stamp reads: “God bless Texas.” In addition to an Easter stamp, Fletcher created a “mission trip” stamp that cites Matthew 28:18-20.
The lawsuit notes that Fletcher has not yet submitted her stamp designs because of PhotoStamp’s “admonition regarding potential liability for publicly challenging the customized postage criteria.”
The lawsuit also contends that while PhotoStamp’s policies prevent religious content, the company has advertised custom postage with religious imagery representing the religious holidays Hanukkah and Kwanza.
“PhotoStamps has engaged in conduct that is inconsistent with its stated policies and the policies of USPS,” the lawsuit reads. “By allowing PhotoStamps to promote and sell customized postage stamps that display certain religious images but not others, USPS has engaged in unlawful viewpoint discrimination and burdened Ms. Fletcher’s religious practices.”
Susan Fletcher, Commissioner – Precinct 1
Collin County Administration Building
2300 Bloomdale Rd., Suite 4192
McKinney, TX 75071
972-424-1460 ext. 4676
Susan Fletcher serves as Collin County Commissioner for Precinct 1, elected in November 2014, to fulfill an unexpired term, and was re-elected in 2016.
She represents approximately 250,000 constituents, covering Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Northwest McKinney and Northwest Plano, along with the surrounding unincorporated areas.
Commissioner Fletcher married her husband, Brian, in 1993, moved to Collin County in 1996, and they have one adult son in college.
With her professional background and training in commercial interior construction & design, Commissioner Fletcher has worked for both corporate institutions in the banking and software industry. In her spare time, she enjoys SCUBA diving, international travel, writing, photography, fishing, shooting and outdoor sports.
Commissioner Fletcher is committed to supporting transportation infrastructure, strengthening public safety and keeping your county tax rate low.
She has consistently stood for transparency, efficiency and accountability at all levels of government. She believes that integrity, diplomacy and sincerity are among the most important characteristics in any elected official.
In addition, Commissioner Fletcher realizes that she works for you, the taxpayers, and her door remains open to all constituents, in order to hear their thoughts and concerns about county governance.
Commissioner Fletcher has served as a gubernatorial appointee, under Governor Rick Perry, on the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (TSBPA) from 2013-2019; and appointed in 2019 by Governor Greg Abbott to serve on the Texas County & District Retirement System (TCDRS). In 2018, she was appointed to the University of North Texas Master Planning Committee, helping design and plan the new Frisco campus. Commissioner Fletcher has worked to raise awareness and help find America’s missing children, having participated in the Fireball Run, a cross-country 8-day, 2,000 mile road rally, distributing thousands of flyers and raising awareness while being filmed as a series for Amazon Prime (Seasons 9, 10 and 11.)
Prior to serving on the Commissioners Court, Commissioner Fletcher served on the Collin County Healthcare Foundation Advisory Board from 2008-2014, which advises the Commissioners Court on state-mandated indigent healthcare.
She also served as part of the Election Ballot Board from 2008-2013, helping to ensure ballot and election integrity.
Commissioner Fletcher has also been instrumental in raising funds for several local organizations such as America’s Defenders (supporting the law enforcement and military veteran communities,) as well as internationally, supporting the construction of an Underground Wartime Emergency Room at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center near Tel Aviv, Israel, visiting the project site in 2012.
She is an active member of Frisco Bible Church, and has served on the missions board as well as the international travel coordinator for All the Difference radio ministry, planning trips to Israel, Jordan, Greece, Turkey and Rome.
Her short-term mission work has taken her to Uganda, Nigeria (2x), Indonesia (2x) and Russia, partnering with local outreach operations and mission organizations.
Professional Affiliations, Clubs & Associations
Commissioners Court representative to the Conference of Urban Counties Policy Committee & Public Power Pool Committee, as well as several TIRZ boards within Precinct 1
Commissioners Court appointee for the Collin County Investment Committee
Frisco Association for the Arts Member & Contributor
Life Member of the NRA, and fierce Constitutional Rights advocate
RNC National Convention Delegate (2012 – Tampa), Delegate #1, Congressional District 3
2012 & 2014 RPT State Platform Committee Member, Senate District 8
2014 Chair of the Education Sub-Committee, RPT State Platform Committee
Co-Chair for the 2016 & 2017 Annual CCGOP Lincoln Day Dinner
2-term Past-President of Golden Corridor Republican Women (2011-2012)
Texans for Freedom and Liberty – Past Steering Committee and Founding Member
Texas representative to the Faith & Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Washington D.C. (2013-2014)
Past PTA Board Member and “Reflections” Chair for FISD
Co-founder of the Denton Christian Coalition in 1994
2010 – Nominated by Congressman Sam Johnson to attend RNC Women’s Leadership Summit
2012 – Texas Federation of Republican Women / Golden Corridor Republican Women – Tribute to Women Award
2013 – Love Life Foundation honoree, for outstanding volunteer service 2013 – Recognized as an Outstanding Citizen of Texas House District 33 by State Representative Scott Turner
2016 – Recipient of the Golden Corridor Republican Women’s “White Hat” Award, for courageous leadership.
2017 – Recognized for International Diplomacy & Statesmanship, as an Honorary Board Member of TURANT – Turkish American Association of North Texas
1989 Bachelor of Fine Arts – University of North Texas in Denton
Major: Commercial Interior Design Minor: Industrial Technology
2016 Graduate of Texas A&M VG Young Commissioners Court Leadership Academy, Class VI
2018 Graduate of the Texas Association of Counties Leadership 254, Class I