‘This case is about crushing dissent. In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist’
Kelsey Harkness reports: An appellate court unanimously ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist who declined to make flower arrangements for a same-sex couple’s wedding because of her religious beliefs.
“It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees.”
At National Review, David French writes:
…But this is the sexual revolution we’re talking about, so it’s necessary for the court to make a statement declaring the government’s allegiances. Indeed, late in the opinion its author gave the game away. Picking up on the absurd and historically ignorant comparison of the modern gay-rights movement with the civil-rights movement in the segregationist South, the judge wrote, “This case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.”
“That’s it right there: the state religion. It reserves for itself the exclusive ability to name, define, and eradicate “social evils,” and heaven help the individual citizen who disagrees. There is no need to show a traditional, legally recognized harm.”
What are they talking about? The federal government took the extraordinary step of passing the civil-rights acts to give black Americans access not just to sandwiches but to hotel rooms, jobs, voting rights, and all the other things they were systematically denied as southern states and communities continually and oppressively imposed the “badges and incidents of slavery” on them. In the pre-civil-rights South, black citizens often had trouble finding places to eat or sleep. They couldn’t vote. They couldn’t get justice in state courts. Civil rights was about access, at its most elementary and necessary level.
But that’s not the case any longer. The gay couple in this case had no trouble finding flowers. Stutzman even recommended other florists who would have been happy to help them celebrate their wedding. So, given the absence of any real harm, the court said that the state had a compelling state interest in punishing the “independent social evil” of discrimination toward a “broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace.”
That’s it right there: the state religion. It reserves for itself the exclusive ability to name, define, and eradicate “social evils,” and heaven help the individual citizen who disagrees. There is no need to show a traditional, legally recognized harm. There is no need to prove lack of access to alternative artistic expressions. There is only the need to show that the business owner won’t use her unique talents to help celebrate the sexual revolution.
Finally, if you doubt the court’s malice, look only to its last ruling — that Stutzman can be held personally liable for her allegedly discriminatory act. In other words, the court is willing to pierce the corporate veil to impose individual liability even in the absence of the traditional justifications for that drastic step. Stutzman didn’t commit fraud. She didn’t commingle her personal and corporate funds. She kept her private and professional affairs separate. But she still faces personal financial ruin.
Social-justice warriors will no doubt celebrate the breaking of another egg for their cultural omelet. … (read more)
The ruling, issued on Thursday by Washington’s nine Supreme Court justices, stated that in refusing to provide services for the same-sex couple’s wedding, Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
“The state of Washington bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” the ruling reads.
“We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case—refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to [Robert] Ingersoll and [Curt] Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding—constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the [Washington Law Against Discrimination].” Read the rest of this entry »
Gorsuch Nomination More Important Than Travel Ban & Judges’ Opposition
“The point I wanted to make in the column was, there is the moratorium, and there is the vetting. The vetting will get 90 percent support in the country, but they actually should do it. It doesn’t depend on a moratorium. The fact is, they have lost the case in the most liberal circuit in the country, they’ve lost it at the district level, and for now, the Supreme Court is deadlocked, so it’s likely to return. In other words the case is stacked against them. I happen to think it’s legal, but these courts have decided not, so why play a losing hand? What he needs to do — I think it’s exactly right — either rewrite the order or have a new one, so you are dealing on a different playing field. You’ve gotten essentially the feedback of the ninth circuit, so you know what will pass muster and what won’t. For example, from the beginning, you exclude the holders of green cards, and then what you do is, you slow-walk the appeals case and you fast-walk the nomination of Gorsuch. There is no hurry on appealing this ruling. They are not going to win it in the end. … “
Source: National Review
REWIND 2010: President Obama Insults Supreme Court Justices to Their Face at State of the Union AddressPosted: February 4, 2017
WASHINGTON, JAN. 28, 2010— Supreme Court decisions. But they tend to do so at news conferences and in written statements, not to the justices’ faces.It is not unusual for presidents to disagree publicly with
President George W. Bush, for instance, did not hesitate to criticize a 2008 rulingrecognizing the rights of prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — but he did it at a news conference in Rome. President Richard M. Nixon said he was disappointed with a 1974 decision ordering him to turn over the tapes that would help end his presidency — in a statement read by his lawyer.
Before he began his attack on a Supreme Court decision not yet a week old, Mr. Obama added a few words that had not been in the prepared text. The new preface — “with all due deference to separation of powers” — seemed to acknowledge that he was aiming unusual rhetorical fire at several Supreme Court justices sitting right in front of him.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., one of the justices in the majority in the decision under attack, shook his head as he heard the president’s summary of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and he appeared to mouth the words “not true.”
It was not quite the shouted “You lie!” from Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, at September’s presidential address to a joint session of Congress. But in its way, the breach of decorum on both sides was much starker.
“The court’s legitimacy is derived from the persuasiveness of its opinions and the expectation that those opinions are rendered free of partisan, political influences,” Mr. Verniero said. “The more that individual justices are drawn into public debates, the more the court as an institution will be seen in political terms, which was not the intent of the founders.”
Modern presidents and Supreme Court justices do not interact very much, and this particular president might be expected to have strained relationships with at least Justice Alito and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., both of whose nominations he voted against as a senator. The president and chief justice would both also probably like to forget the flubbed administration of the presidential oath at Mr. Obama’s inauguration last year. Read the rest of this entry »
Dan Mangan reports: In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a top federal appeals court Tuesday said that billions of dollars worth of government subsidies that helped 4.7 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are not legal under the Affordable Care Act.
“Now, Obama and Company will look for John Roberts to pull their fat out of the fire again. I am afraid he will.”
— Wesley J. Smith
In its decision, a three-judge panel said that such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov. Plaintiffs in the case known as Halbig v. Burwell argued that the ACA, as written, only allows that often-significant financial aid to be issued to people who bought insurance on a marketplace set up a state.
The decision is certain to be challenged by the Obama Administration, and does not immediately have the effect of law. But if it is ultimately upheld, it would cause insurance rates for those people who lost the subsidies to dramatically rise. Read the rest of this entry »
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) Jeff Barnard reports: A federal appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.
The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure, which could have invoked an even higher standard of showing the writer acted with malice, but the issue was of public concern, so the negligence standard applied.
A day after the Senate voted to begin debate on new gun control measures, the Supreme Court is expected to consider a new appeal aimed at loosening state restrictions on firearms.
The justices are meeting in private Friday to discuss adding new cases for the term that begins in the fall. Among them is an appeal of a federal court ruling that upheld New York’s strict licensing scheme for carrying concealed weapons in public.
The National Rifle Association and 20 states are backing an appeal by five New York residents who claim that the state law violates their constitutional gun rights. The challenge comes nearly five years after a landmark Supreme Court decision in favor of gun rights — and four months after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn.
The court could say as early as Monday whether it will hear the case.
Legal scholars say the issue of whether people have a right to be armed in public is likely to win high court review at some point. The court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller focused mainly on the right to defend one’s own home, but it left for another day how broadly the Second Amendment may protect gun rights in other settings.
In November, less than three weeks before the Newtown shootings, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a state law that requires those who want to carry handguns to show a special need for self-protection. Other states with gun laws like New York include California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Another federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., has since upheld the Maryland law, while challenges are pending to the laws in California, Hawaii and New Jersey.
Alan Gura, an Alexandria, Va.-based lawyer who is representing the New Yorkers, as well as the challengers in several other states, said that by upholding such state laws, lower courts are undermining constitutional protections for gun owners.
Gura said the appeals court rulings on the New York and Maryland laws, “if left unchecked, will accelerate the lower courts’ resistance” to the Supreme Court’s endorsement of gun rights.
“The issue here is a large and obvious one that predated Newtown and it will continue to be a big issue going forward,” Gura said. He declined to speculate on whether the Newtown shootings might affect the Supreme Court’s decision.
But University of California at Los Angeles law professor Adam Winkler, an expert on the legal dispute over guns, said the time may not be right for the high court’s review. “The justices have to be cognizant of the politics of guns at this moment in time. Newtown makes it less likely the justices will want to wade into the gun issue,” he said.
Another factor that often influences the justices’ decision to take up a case is when lower courts come to different conclusions about the law’s meaning. Gura’s clients and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, defending the law, disagree about whether there is a split among federal appeals courts.
In December, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the only statewide ban on carrying concealed weapons, in Illinois. The court gave state lawmakers until June to adopt a law that takes account of the ruling. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has said she will wait to see what the state legislature does before deciding whether to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Gura said the Illinois ruling “brings this split into sharp relief at the federal appellate level.”
But Schneiderman said the decision in Illinois stressed the unique nature of the state law that was struck down and contrasted that law with the statutes in New York and elsewhere that give officials wide discretion in deciding whether to grant permits to carry guns in public.
The case is Kachalsky v. Cacace, 12-845.