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Supreme Court to Review Case of a Baker Told He Must Bake Gay Wedding Cake


Reported by  Ryan T. Anderson / / June 26, 2017 /

URL of the original posting site: http://dailysignal.com/2017/06/26/supreme-court-review-case-baker-fined-not-baking-gay-wedding-cake/

A lower court ruling had forced Jack Phillips to choose between obeying the government and following his religious beliefs. (Photo: iStock Photos)

Today was a good day for religious freedom at the Supreme Court. In a 7-2 decision, the court upheld religious liberty by saying that a state cannot exclude a church from a public program just because it’s a church. That was the big case at the court.

In a less-noted move, the court also agreed to review (“granted cert” in the legal jargon) a case about religious liberty, free speech, and government coercion to support gay marriage. The case involves Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, and whether he must create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings, even if doing so violates his beliefs. 

The case goes back to 2012, when a same-sex couple received a marriage license in Massachusetts and asked Phillips to bake a cake for a reception back home in Colorado, a state that in 2006 constitutionally defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Phillips declined to create a wedding cake, citing his faith: “I don’t feel like I should participate in their wedding, and when I do a cake, I feel like I am participating in the ceremony or the event or the celebration that the cake is for,” he said.

The couple later obtained a wedding cake with rainbow-colored filling (illustrating the expressive nature of event cake-baking) from another bakery.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop with the state, alleging violations of Colorado’s public accommodation law.

Administrative Law Judge Robert N. Spencer ruled against the bakery on Dec. 6, 2013, concluding that Phillips violated the law by declining service to the couple “because of their sexual orientation.”

Phillips objected to this characterization and responded that he would happily sell the couple his baked goods for any number of occasions, but creating a wedding cake would force him to express something that he does not believe, thereby violating his freedom to run his business in accordance with his faith.

Phillips is right. As Sherif Girgis and I explain in our new book from Oxford University Press, “Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination,” acting on the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife does not in itself entail “discriminating” on the basis of sexual orientation. Indeed, part of the problem is that liberals are simply calling anything they disagree with “discrimination.”

This overbroad definition of “discrimination” is part of what creates the problems for the free exercise of religion and free speech. And here a pattern holds: Legally coercing professionals serves no serious need, but works serious harms.

Conservative wedding providers are few and dwindling due to market pressures—and most important, they don’t refuse to serve LGBT patrons. In case after case, bakers have had no problem designing cakes for gay customers for every other occasion. It’s just that an exceedingly small number can’t in good conscience use their talents to help celebrate same-sex weddings by baking a cake topped with two grooms or two brides—or, as in this case, with rainbow filling.

Coercing these cultural dissidents has vanishingly small effects on the supply of products for any given couple, but it impinges seriously on particular vendors’ freedoms of speech, conscience, and religion. If any harm remains in leaving these wedding professionals free, it is only the tension we all face in living with people who disagree with us on the most personal matters.

As Girgis and I explain in our new book, America is in a time of transition. The Supreme Court has redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing. Now, the Supreme Court has the chance to protect the right to dissent and the civil liberties of those who speak and act in accord with what Americans had always previously believed about marriage—that it is the union of husband and wife.

Such a ruling would help achieve civil peace amid disagreement. It would protect pluralism and the rights of all Americans, regardless of what faith they may practice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ryan T. Anderson/

Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation, where he researches and writes about marriage, bioethics, religious liberty and political philosophy. Anderson is the author of several books and his research has been cited by two U.S. Supreme Court justices in two separate cases. Read his Heritage research.

Supreme Court won’t hear transgender bathroom case


Authored

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a high-profile case on transgender rights, sending it back to the lower courts. The justices tossed out a ruling Monday that allowed Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy in Virginia, to use the bathroom he chooses, and ordered that a lower court reconsider the case in light of new guidance issued by the Trump administration last month.

The justices had planned to hear arguments later this month and both sides had pressed for the high court to weigh in amid a national debate over rights for the transgendered.

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Grimm, born female, was barred from using the boy’s bathroom in 2014 after the Gloucester County School Board enacted a policy requiring all students to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender assigned at birth. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Grimm, who argued that the school board “impermissibly discriminated against him” in violation of Title IX anti-discrimination laws and his constitutional right to equal protection under the law.  The court cited Obama administration guidance that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity, claiming those rights were covered federal anti-discrimination laws addressing “sex.”But on Feb. 22, the Trump Justice Department and Education Department sent a letter to the lower court rescinding that Obama guidance.

The fight now returns to the lower court, where both sides vowed to press forward with their case.

“On remand to the lower courts, the Board looks forward to explaining why its commonsense restroom and locker room policy is legal under the Constitution and federal law,” the Gloucester County School Board said in a statement. LGBTQ advocates expressed disappointment in the justices’ decision.

“This announcement speaks volumes to the ways that President Trump’s actions are already having devastating consequences for transgender youth across the country,” said Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe, in a statement.

“All students, including transgender students, deserve to participate fully and succeed in school, and to feel safe and respected while doing so.”

At issue is whether Title IX’s anti-discrimination measures can force schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. The Obama guidance said it did. The Trump administration in withdrawing that guidance said the Obama administration failed to “explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX,” but didn’t make their own case for whether Title IX applies. Legal experts say it’s unclear what the Fourth Circuit will do.

“It could ask for more briefing, it could send it back to the district judge to rule on the merits and then let it come back up,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

“It could also wait and see what DOJ and DOE [Department of Education] are planning on doing or it could just go forward and reach the merits under Title IX and try to discern the legislative intent from 1972.”

In a statement, Mark Phillis, a discrimination and harassment lawyer at Littler Mendelson P.C., said there are two cases pending before the Second Circuit and Seventh Circuit Courts in which the interpretation of “sex” is being considered in the employment context under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

“Since Title IX cases often look to cases decided under Title VII, these cases could have an impact on the way the this case may be decided,” he said.

Legal experts say that the issue could eventually end up back before the Supreme Court, with other cases also making their way through the courts.

“No question about it,” Tobias said. “It’s just a matter of which case is the right case.”

He said Grimm’s case was premature. “The district court never reached the merits,” he said. “I don’t know why they granted cert.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which brought the case forward on Grimm’s behalf, told the justices on March 1 that the Trump administration’s actions made it critical for the high court to quickly resolve the question of transgender students and bathrooms.

“[T]he Court will inevitably have to settle the question by clarifying the proper interpretation of Title IX,” the group said. 

–This report was updated at 3:04 p.m.

Legal Fight Rages to Save Voter ID Laws. Supreme Court weighs review of ruling that struck down North Carolina election integrity statute


waving flagAuthored by Brendan Kirby | Updated 06 Feb 2017 at 9:23 AM

URL of the original posting site: http://www.lifezette.com/polizette/legal-fight-rages-to-save-voter-id-laws/

The Supreme Court could decide as early as Monday whether to review an appellate court decision striking down North Carolina’s law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The ruling by the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was something of an outlier in the ongoing war over voter ID laws, finding not just that the statute disproportionately impacted minorities but that lawmakers had acted intentionally to suppress minority voters.

“Although the new provisions target African-Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist,” U.S. Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote in an opinion signed by all three judges on the appeals panel. “Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the  State’s true motivation.”more-leftist-propaganda

If the high court decides not to hear the case, it will leave North Carolina without a photo ID law. If the justices do take the case and adopt the reasoning of the appeals court, it could jeopardize voter ID laws elsewhere — particularly in Southern states that previously had to get advance go-ahead from the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act to make even minor changes to voting rules.

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The Public Interest Legal Foundation, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of North Carolina’s law, argues that the justices should lay down a clear marker that states are within their rights to require identification to ensure the integrity of elections.more-leftist-propaganda

“Voter ID works just about wherever it’s tried,” said Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for the group.

North Carolina passed the law in 2013. In addition to the ID requirement, it also eliminated same-day voter registration, scaled back early voting dates, prohibited voters from casting ballots in the wrong precinct, and eliminated straight-ticked voting, requiring voters to mark their choices in each race individually. It provided a free photo ID card for anyone who stated he could not obtain a driver’s license.amen

Even before the Supreme Court weighs in on the appeal, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper could try to short-circuit the law by withdrawing the appeal. He refused to defend the law in court when he was the attorney general.

“Gov. Cooper continues to oppose this law and believes we should make it easier, not harder, for people to exercise their right to vote,” gubernatorial spokeswoman Noelle Talley told WRAL-TV in Raleigh last week. We’re currently reviewing this case inherited from the prior administration.” Attorney General Josh Stein, also a Democrat, issued a similar statement.

Even if both pull out, though, the Republican-controlled legislature could appoint its own attorney to pursue the appeal.

Meanwhile, it is possible the federal government might switch sides, as well. The Justice Department of former President Obama had been supporting the plaintiffs. But President Donald Trump’s administration might reach a different conclusion.

The Justice Department filed its brief in support of the plaintiffs one day before Trump’s inauguration — 11 days before the deadline. It is similar to an attempt by Obama’s outgoing administration to kill a lawsuit accusing the IRS of improperly targeting conservative nonprofit groups.

In its legal brief in the North Carolina case, the Public Interest Legal Foundation argues that the appeals court applied the wrong standard in evaluating the state’s law. The judges used a standard under the Voting Rights Act that placed the burden of proof on North Carolina and other states tainted by discriminatory practices in the past to show that electoral system changes were race-neutral. But the Supreme Court struck down that portion of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, holding that the formula for determining whether jurisdictions should be subject to so-called “preclearance” was outdated.

 

As a result, attorneys J. Christian Adams and Kaylan Phillips argue in their brief, the appeals court should have used the legal standard that applies to every other state under the Voting Rights Act. That would have put the burden on the plaintiffs to demonstrate discriminatory intent.

“That standard requires a far more robust showing than a statistical demonstration that a given minority might be less likely to be able to vote at a certain time, use a particular voting practice more often than non-minorities, or possess certain types of documentation at different rates,” the brief states.

Churchwell, the spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, predicted the issue will not go away, even if the justices pass on taking the case. Different courts have used different standards to evaluate voter ID laws, he said. What’s more, he added, issues like redistricting that must take place every 10 years also could be affected.

“If they don’t take this case, we will continue to have that split,” he said. “This is bigger than North Carolina. It’s bigger than voter ID … If this ruling takes hold, it’s going to cause a whole lot of problems in a few years when redistricting comes along.”

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Iran Wants More Pallets of Cash


waving flagAugust 9, 2016By

I wonder if now that the Obama administration has paid the ransom “we owed” the Iranian regime, whether it will set a precedent for others to put their hands out and demand, or at least request funds from the U.S. treasury?

Heck, even before the precedent, the Israeli government asked the U.S. to bump up its annual military stipend from $3 billion to $5 billion. Those dirty, money-grubbing Jews – asking for an additional $2 billion. You might think that, but they are blaming the Obama administration for the fact that they must request it in the first place.

It seems the Middle East is poised to get a lot more dangerous thanks to the huge infusion of cash which was part of the US-Iran nuclear agreement. So thanks to Obama, Israel expects to have to spend a lot more on defense. They do have a point.

Now in, we’ll call the post-ransom period, another has come forward asking for cash. Our old buddy, “former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is asking President Obama to release nearly $2 billion in Iranian assets frozen in a New York bank account.”

The Hill reports that Mahmoud is back and may be considering dealanother run for president next year.

I guess he plans to return to the election circuit as the conquering hero, with $1.75 billion in tow.

However, as you may recall – this is the same $1.75 billion that the supreme Court voted 6-2 to disperse over 1,000 victims of various terrorist atrocities perpetrated on Americans over the years, “including the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1996 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Khobar towers…”

“Iran is appealing the case at the international Court of Justice.” Court of Justice. Sounds like a place where superheroes gather. Not quite – more like super-leftists.

pallets-of-cash-to-iranBut Mahmoud isn’t content to leave it in the hands of the courts. He instead has penned an open letter to Obama.

After a full paragraph of praising Allah and Mohammed, he gets down to it, spending the next couple paragraphs buttering up Obama – telling him that basically nothing is his fault. Birds of a feather, I suppose, as Obama has said the same for years.

However, Mahmoud doesn’t mention Bush specifically as does Obama – just past administrations that have been responsible for “about 60 years of oppression and cruelty by different American governments against the Iranian nation…”extra bowl of stupid

He then cites the supreme Court case which he claims illegally seized Iranian assets. He asks for “his Excellency,” Obama to “quickly fix” the problem and “that not only the Iranian nations must be restored, and the seized property released and returned, but also the damages caused be fully compensated for.”

Iran-ATM-600-LIWow – he sure knows the American legal system. If he loses his bid for the presidency, Mahmoud could no doubt become a slip and fall lawyer. And he also knows Obama, the leftist, as he plays to Obama’s legacy. “I passionately advise you not to let the historical affirmation and bitter incident be recorded under your name,” writes Mahmoud.

I don’t know whether Obama has the authority to release the funds the court has already allocated. Of course I also don’t think the court should have the authority, regardless of the good cause.

In my opinion, if Obama does “find” the authority, he would certainly get out the forklift again and load up the unmarked jet with more pallets of Euros. Anything for his pals in Iran.

Bright-Future-NRD-600 Never-Hillary-Egl-sm fight Picture1 true battle In God We Trust freedom combo 2

The Satanic Temple Is a Fraud


waving flagAugust 1, 2016 By

A group from Salem Massachusetts is fighting for the right to institute their own version of an afterschool program to elementary schools across the nation. The Satanic Temple’s cofounder Doug Mesner, who goes by the name Lucien Greaves, is attempting to introduce “Satan After School” (SAS) to “counterbalance Christian afterschool programs.”

And not just any Christian afterschool program. They are targeting schools which have allowed the Christian “Good News Club” in.

The Washington Post writes  that what brought on the desire of the Satanic Temple to start an afterschool program was a 2001 supreme Court ruling. The ruling allowed for the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) to be included in afterschool programs as a matter of free speech rights.

As if we needed the supremes to tell us that. The Post says that the “CEF then went on a tear, and by 2011, it reported 3,560 Good News Clubs, putting them in more than 5% of the nation’s public elementary schools.”

More than 5%? Is that a lot, because it sure doesn’t sound like it. It sounds more like around 95% of the nation’s elementary schools have not invited in the CEF. But this matters not to Mr. Greaves and his Satan After School program. Anymore than 0% is too much for him.

Greaves did however add that, “We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel specifically for opening the doors to the After School 36BC6DF200000578-0-image-m-25_1469922732593Satan Clubs through their dedication to religious liberty.”

Okay – now I have it. It’s not about free speech as much as it is about religious liberty. That’s interesting. They too, like the CEF, want to be included in afterschool programs for reasons of religious liberty – evidently. That is interesting, considering the Satanic Temple states that they really don’t worship anyone or anything. It’s all just an act.

Instead, the Satan After School program intends to include a healthy snack, literature lesson, creative learning activities, a science lesson and art. Is it me, or does this sound like what the kids are doing during a normal school day? What would they need the Satan After School program for?

In other words, the Satan After School program is a fraud, which Greaves is purposely perpetrating on schools and has nothing whatsoever to do with religious liberty.

Chalice Blyth, head of the Satanic Temple’s Utah chapter, said: “The Satanic Temple doesn’t espouse a belief in the existence of a supernatural being that other religions identify solemnly as Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub. The Temple rejects all forms of supernaturalism and is committed to the view that scientific rationality provides the best measure of reality.”Bull

That doesn’t sound at all what Satan would espouse. If I signed my kids up for the SAS program, I’d feel cheated. I thought we signed them up for some good old-fashioned Devil worship. I want my money back! The fact is, this group – at least their leaders, are just dopey atheists who, if pressed, would surely admit that they prefer religion not exist at all. In school – afterschool – anywhere.

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Seven Times Democrats Were Overtly Racist On Judges Before Trump


waving flag Authored by Casey Harper / 06/06/2016

Donald Trump has taken heavy fire for saying the judge presiding over his Trump University lawsuit is biased because of his Mexican heritage, but Democrats have a long history of invoking race on judicial issues.

Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in the case because of his Mexican heritage, calling him “a hater of Donald Trump.” In the case, former students of Trump University are suing Trump alleging the school, which was supposed to teach real estate, was a ripoff. Trump has firmly denied their allegations.

In an interview, CNN’s Jake Tapper repeatedly questioned Trump about invoking the judge’s race saying “is that not the definition of racism?”

“But I don’t care if you criticize him,” Tapper told Trump in the interview. “That’s fine.  You can criticize every decision.  What I’m saying is if you invoke his race as a reason why he can’t do his job …” The problem is, a judge’s race is often a major factor and is acknowledged as such by the media, especially in Supreme Court appointments.

The Daily Caller News Foundation has compiled a list of seven times liberals invoked a judge’s race.

  1. Justice Sonia Sotomayor famously invoked her identity as a “wise Latina” who could outdo a white man. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” she said in an October, 2001 speech that became a point of criticism for Republicans.
  2. When Donald Trump released his list of potential Supreme Court nominees, the left was quick to point out they were all white. Think Progress published an article titled “Your Ultimate Guide To The 11 White People Donald Trump Will Consider For The Supreme Court,” which pointed out that “Only three are women. All are white.”
  3. George Takei, Star Trek actor and gay rights activist, called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in black face” after his vote against the recognition of same-sex marriage. “I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains?” Takei said. “That they were whipped on the back. If he saw the movie 12 Years a Slave, you know, they were raped.”
  4. Liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson blasted Thomas for his stance against affirmative action. “I believe in affirmative action, but I have to acknowledge there are arguments against it,” Robinson wrote. “One of the more cogent is the presence of Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court.”
  5. Anna Quindlen, a liberal writer for Newsweek, clearly invoked Thomas’ race in her criticism of him, saying “His judicial resume was mediocre; he was chosen because he was conservative and black, an affirmative-action hire by an administration that eschewed affirmative action.”
  6. Liberal writers and activists Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon wrote an article in the Seattle Times saying Thomas was unseemly as a “beneficiary of affirmative-action programs who climbs the ladder of success by attacking affirmative action.”
  7. To defend itself from criticism over nominating a white Supreme Court Justice, the White House was quick to invoke race. In a post titled, “White House Defends Diversity Record In Judicial Appointments,” the New York Times points out that Josh Earnest was eager to tell reporters that Obama had appointed a Hispanic justice to the Supreme Court and therefore, had previously embraced diversity. The defense came after attacks from the left over nominee Merrick Garland, who is white.

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What Does ‘We the People’ Really Mean? A Constitutional Scholar Explains


waving flagReported by Rob Bluey / / May 12, 2016

Do you know the difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic? Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett wants to clear up any confusion.

Barnett, director of Georgetown’s Center for the Constitution, wrote the book “Our Republican Constitution” to explain what the founders really meant by “We the People” in the U.S. Constitution.

During a recent visit to The Heritage Foundation, we caught up with Barnett to talk about the book and why he’s pessimistic about the outlook of the U.S. Supreme Court following Antonin Scalia’s death and President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.

“There’s a lot at stake with the next Supreme Court justice, but I can already tell you, I believe that fight has been lost,” Barnett said. “We have to decide how we’re going to survive under a court that is hostile to how we think.”

SEE INTERVIEW BELOW:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Rob Bluey  @RobertBluey

 

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