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Supreme Court Refusal to Hear Florist Case Sends Troubling Religious Freedom Message
By Daniel Greenfield
While the media keeps insisting that the Supreme Court is in the hands of the “right”, in practice there are two solidly conservative justices, and a few other unreliable idiosyncratic justices who lean conservative. While the Supreme Court’s left-liberal alliance, led by Chief Justice Roberts, has ruthlessly defended left-wing policy priorities, whether it’s DACA, ObamaCare or removing the citizenship question from the census, conservative policy priorities earn more of a reassuring pat than meaningful substance much of the time.
Like religious freedom.
SCOTUS religious freedom decisions largely lean on decisions showing that officials have discriminated against religious people, whether it’s pandemic restrictions on churches or forcing a baker to make a gay wedding cake. These decisions however have been minimalistic.
The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is likely headed back to the Supreme Court. And that’s because the court’s previous ruling didn’t simply state that religious freedom protects the right of an artisan not to make products that conflict with his beliefs. Rather the ruling found that officials had discriminated against him. That’s why local officials and activist leftists just rebooted the case on stronger grounds.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court refused to hear the ongoing case of a florist facing a similar threat to her religious freedom.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday decided not to hear an appeal from a Washington state florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding — leaving in place a lower court ruling that said she broke anti-discrimination law.
Washington courts previously ruled against Arlene’s Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman and the state high court affirmed the decisions. Stutzman, who refused to provide floral services for a wedding between Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed, took the case to the nation’s high court.
Only three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch — voted to hear the appeal. A minimum of four are required for the court to hear a case.
Stutzman initially filed the suit several years ago after she was sued by Washington state and the ACLU for refusing services to same-sex couples. She refused on the grounds that same-sex unions violate her beliefs as a Southern Baptist.
There are two ways to look at this. The Court sees the Masterpiece Cakeshop case coming back and is prepping to deal with that. Or, alternatively, it really isn’t ready to assert that religious freedom is a compelling enough matter that it overrides local identity politics civil rights laws. When those laws or their implementation appear to specifically discriminate against Christians, SCOTUS may intervene. Otherwise not.
There’s unfortunately plenty of basis for this depressing take on the Supreme Court’s approach to religious freedom.
Remember that SCOTUS only sent Stutzman’s case, or the Arlene’s Flowers case, back for review to measure if religious hostility had caused the crackdown on her. The local court predictably shrugged and dismissed the idea. The Supreme Court shrugged and dismissed the case.
Is that going to happen again with Masterpiece Cakeshop? It could.
We live under a leftist legal tyranny which asserts that…
1. Children can’t be ‘forced’ to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in School
2. Drivers can’t be ‘forced’ to carry the state motto of New Hampshire on their license plates
… because these would be compelled speech.
But artisans can be compelled to make artistic products, whether it’s photos, floral arrangements, or cakes, that violate their First Amendment rights because leftist identity politics transmuted into civil rights trumps the Bill of Rights.
Will the Supreme Court’s so-called conservative majority end this madness? We’ll find out soon enough.