Supreme Court Faces Wave of Free-Speech Cases from Conservatives

David Savage, Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2014

For decades, liberals wielded the 1st Amendment to protect antiwar activists, civil rights protesters and government whistle-blowers.

These days, however, the Constitution’s protection for free speech and religious liberty has become the weapon of choice for conservatives.

This year’s Supreme Court term features an unusual array of potentially powerful 1st Amendment claims, all of them coming from groups on the right.

And in nearly every case, liberal groups—often in alliance with the Obama administration—are taking the opposing side, supporting state and federal laws that have come under attack for infringing upon the rights of conservatives.

The free-speech challenges include cases on campaign contribution limits, no-protest zones in front of abortion clinics and mandatory union dues for public employees.

At the same time, devout Christian employers are claiming their religious liberty should entitle them to an exemption from a provision in President Obama’s healthcare law requiring that full contraceptive coverage be offered to female employees.

And waiting on deck is a free-speech appeal from a Christian photography company challenging a New Mexico state law that bars businesses from discriminating against gays and lesbians.

{snip}

A key test of the court’s leanings will come later this month, when the justices meet behind closed doors to decide whether to hear a challenge to New Mexico’s law forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The case began when Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, the owners of Elane Photography, refused a request to photograph a wedding of two women. Elaine Huguenin said she did only “traditional weddings,” explaining that to do otherwise would violate her religious beliefs.

In response to a complaint, the state Human Rights Commission charged Elane Photography with violating the state’s antidiscrimination law. The photographers appealed and lost before the state Supreme Court.

In November, the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based legal group that advocates for religious liberty, appealed on the photographers’ behalf to the Supreme Court. The group asked the justices to decide whether it violated the 1st Amendment for a state to “require a photographer to create expressions, images and picture books conveying messages that conflict with her religious beliefs.”

{snip}

If four or more justices vote to decide the issue, the case will be heard in the fall.

{snip}

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  • Luca

    When the government starts mandating that businesses must provide goods and services in violation of the business owners religious beliefs, I am going down to a Jewish Deli and demanding a ham sandwich.

    • Tarczan

      And I am going to the local deli that serves “Halal” with my dog and demanding pork rinds.(There really is a shop in town that has a sign that says “we serve halal”)

      • SFLBIB

        I’d bet you would lose that one because they don’t serve pork rinds to anybody. So there is no discrimination.

        • Reverend Bacon

          right, a better analogy would be to make a Jewish knife sharpener have to sharpen the knife you use to cut ham.

          • bilderbuster

            If you really want to cause a Jewish dilemma then offer free ham sandwiches.

          • Reverend Bacon

            An oldie but a goodie…

    • Jesse James

      Now you know tolerance and rights are only for those who got their mind right. Time to get your mind right Luka.

      • Laura Dilworth

        or spend the night in the box

        • Jesse James

          Sweet, I was hoping someone got the Cool Hand Luke reference, been waiting to say that all my life 🙂

          • Laura Dilworth

            the best movie!

      • Geo1metric

        My favorite movie. A little something for everyone.

        • Laura Dilworth

          what’s your dirt doing in my hole?

    • disqus_Xz3UA6obwj

      Bad analogy for no business is required to sell ham sandwiches, however if you do choose to sell ham sandwiches to the public, you better offer it to everybody or risk being sued.

      “The case began when Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, the owners of Elane Photography, refused a request to photograph a wedding of two women. Elaine Huguenin said she did only “traditional weddings,” explaining that to do otherwise would violate her religious beliefs.”
      This type of Christian hypersensitivity is absurd. Make no mistake, photographing a gay wedding does not violate the photographer’s religious beliefs, the two getting married violate the photographer’s religious beliefs and the photographer has no right what so ever to apply their religious beliefs onto their customers. If the photographer actually believes in god then they need to let god handle the sinners and do the judging for it is not her place to do that, especially in the course of conducting business. If this type of intolerance is tolerated by law then it opens the door up for all kinds of discrimination for anything can be said to offend ones religion.

    • disqus_Xz3UA6obwj

      I guess posts that offer common sense are no longer tolerated on this site. That’s a shame because now you are just a propaganda site when you censor anything that disagrees with your anti gay position. My post did not deserve to be deleted.

      • sbuffalonative

        When a comment is deleted it says, ‘this comment was deleted’. I don’t see any deleted comments.

        Can you re-state the comment in a way so it wouldn’t be deleted?

    • SFLBIB

      You might not believe this but I worded across the street from a Jewish deli that served ham. It was a great place to eat, too. The owner lost the building to eminent domain by the city so a large mall could be built, and the world lost a great chef.

      • bilderbuster

        A deli chef?

        • SFLBIB

          If you had tasted his food, you’d know.

          • bilderbuster

            I do know.
            There was one like that that I used to frequent where the brisket, chicken salad, potato salad… Everything was a work of art.
            Yum… I miss that place.
            I was only pulling your leg.

  • Pro_Whitey

    If Ruth Bader Ginsburg has anything to do with it, we’ll find out that there are some interesting limitations to the First Amendment.

  • MekongDelta69

    Typical leftist L.A. Times.

    Notice the difference in the two sentences:
    “For decades, liberals wielded the 1st Amendment to protect antiwar activists, civil rights protesters and government whistle-blowers.”

    “These days, however, the Constitution’s protection for free speech and religious liberty has become the weapon of choice for conservatives.”

    When The First Amendment protects leftists, it is a GOOD and NOBLE thing.

    When The First Amendment is used by ‘evil’ Conservatives, it is a WEAPON OF CHOICE and BAD.

    • Good catch. You have a sharp eye.

      • bilderbuster

        It’s everywhere if you look for it.

    • IKE

      If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.
      Sowell

    • r j p

      Liberals can not perceive the results of their choices.
      And is going to come back to haunt them when conservatives start using liberal leaning decisions against them and their actions.

      • Zaporizhian Sich

        Poetic justice demands we use all of our enemies own methods against them, plus one better. Karma after all doesn’t forget, or forgive.

    • Reverend Bacon

      I think it’s fundamentally an indication of how the terms Liberal and Conservative have changed. There’s nothing liberal about Liberals these days. And Conservatives have nothing left to conserve. It’s liberals who want to maintain the status quo. We just want our damn country back.

    • Alexandra1973

      Yeah, no surprise there.

    • SFLBIB

      Great observation!

  • thomas edward

    I’m no lawyer, but in the recesses of my brain, I remember the lousy Supreme Court shot down freedom of association with the Interstate Commerce Clause, a real back door interpretation of that concept. The ruling I believe had to do with a Motel being taken to court over refusing to rent to blacks.

    • So CAL Snowman

      The Interstate Commerce Clause has almost single handedly destroyed the Republic.

    • r j p

      I don’t know if the ICC was used in the decision, but it was Shelley v. Kraemer that killed freedom of association. The ICC did however destroy airlines and trucking companies though.

  • I do not trust the SCOTUS. There are a couple of guys who put written law before bizarre, twisted interpretations that support social engineering, but that’s a minority. I would swear Obama has something on Roberts, given the Obamacare decision. I wouldn’t count on the SC to help our cause. Secession, armed revolt by the military, or something I don’t see is a more promising avenue toward reclaiming our race and our freedom.

  • JohnEngelman

    The free-speech challenges include cases on campaign contribution limits, no-protest zones in front of abortion clinics and mandatory union dues for public employees.

    – David Savage, Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2014

    Using the First Amendment to defend unlimited campaign financing and to weaken labor unions is as much a judicial usurpation of legislative prerogatives as using it to defend flag desecration, obscenity, and public nudity.

    • Strider73

      Even FDR and George Meany knew better than to let government employees unionize. Governments don’t have to sell a product or service their customers want in order to make enough money to meet payroll; they just raise taxes. Then the unions support politicians who will raise taxes again to fund even bigger salaries and benefits, and the cycle endlessly repeats. Governments and unions are not antagonists — they are covert allies in a war against the taxpayers. The violent reaction of unionized bureaucrats in Wisconsin when Gov. Walker got even modest reforms enacted proves it beyond a doubt.

      Law enforcement unions are the worst of all. They are the main reason so many cops today are trigger-happy sociopaths. Those cops know they will never be held accountable for the crimes they commit against the people, since the union will always have their back.

    • Peter Connor

      No, mandatory union dues for public or any employees is a usurpation of the workers’ freedom of contract and freedom of association. The Court has already ruled that the part of those dues used for political purposes cannot be enforced. Unions are NOT protected by the Constitution and did not exist at the time.

      • JohnEngelman

        The way democracy works is that the majority decides, and the minority is forced to obey. We cannot have everyone doing what they please, and deciding which laws to obey and which laws not to obey.

        When the majority of employees decide to join a union all of them have an obligation to pay union dues, and to go on strike when the union decides to.

        The United States Constitution was designed for a very different kind of country than the one we live in now. The total population was only a few million. Most people lived on farms. Only white male property owners could vote.

        A lot of things did not exist back then. The Constitution is not the Absolute Truth. It is nothing more than one way to operate a democratic government.

        Unions are not protected by the Constitution, but they are not prohibited either. If the Constitution does not clearly say something, we should assume that it is silent on the matter, and leaves it up to the voters.

        • Peter Connor

          Completely wrong. This government exists only because the States ratified the Constitution, which is essentially a contract between the Federal Govt and the States and their People. And we are not a democracy, we are a Republic.  When we become a majoritarian democracy, probably soon with idiots like you around, we will collapse in fairly short order.

        • Luca

          We are not an absolute Democracy, otherwise it would lead to mob rule. Unions that force their will on people are no different then the Communist party that existed in the Soviet Union.

          Government employees should not be unionized. When they are, they potentially pose a threat to public safety and welfare and usually present a conflict of interest to the taxpayers.

          The air traffic controllers strike in the early 80’s was a classic example of that and Pres. Reagan firing them all is a classic example of doing the right thing and a classic display of leadership..

        • Zaporizhian Sich

          Russia had a democracy for six months, which gave the Bolsheviks the chance to seize power across Eastern Europe. That resulted in the deaths of 100 million whites, a Cold War that cost trillions of dollars, and now the spread of the twin cancers of Liberalism and Islam killing western nations from with in. Democracy is mob rule, or if you well, two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. The U.S. never was a democracy, it was founded as a republic. So were many European nations such as France. Even the Roman Empire was preceded by a republic. What we have here is the disaster called the Kerensky government in the U.S. all over again. Then as now, hostile racial and religious minorities grabbed power, and unless something is done, what happened to the majority populations of Eastern Europe will happen again here.

          • JohnEngelman

            You are using the overthrow of the first democratic government Russia had by the Bolsheviks as an argument against democracy. Actually it is an argument against the overthrow of a democratic government by an armed coup of political fanatics. Like white nationalists today, the Bolsheviks realized that majority opinion was against them.

            As far as I have been able to tell, the assertion that “The United States is a republic, not a democracy,” originated with the John Birch Society during the 1950’s.

            Reactionaries never accepted the basic reforms of the New Deal.

            In 1952 Dwight Eisenhower was elected president, and the Republicans won both houses of Congress.

            Reactionaries hoped President Eisenhower would lead a repeal of New Deal legislation. Eisenhower refused, explaining to a letter to his brother that the New Deal legislation had broad popular support.

            When the John Birch Society came to agree with Eisenhower about that broad popular support, they claimed that the United States was not a democracy in order to deny that the will of the majority has moral legitimacy.

          • JohnEngelman

            Zaporizhian Sich,

            You do not accept majority rule? Who do you think should rule? Would you like to disenfranchise Jews and non whites?

          • Zaporizhian Sich

            They have their own lands, we are losing ours. If we really had majority rule 50 years ago, we would not be having this discussion.

  • Alexandra1973

    What if you have a gay photographer who only photographs gay “weddings,” and a straight couple wants their services, and they’re denied?

    I bet the straight couple would still be considered intolerant or whatever.

  • DudeWheresMyCountry?

    We are the 21st century Soviet Union. In America of the past the issue would’ve died at: we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. How can you force a non-essential business to provide services to a private party? And what weirdos would want photographers to shoot their wedding that completely did not want the job? Can somebody push the self destruct button on this quasi country? Well we do agree with the left on one thing; we both want the USA destroyed… we want it to happen swiftly so we can rebuild our historic identity and the left wants destruction to happen slowly… a soft genocide that the sheep won’t notice.

  • TL2014

    She is not religious. She is not really Jewish, actually. She is a renegade. I’m sure she eats pork just fine.

    • bilderbuster

      She needs to lay off all the pork & shellfish because she always looks like she’s constipated.

  • Peter Connor

    I guess they skipped basic civics in your school.

    • Geo1metric

      It’s useless to argue with him; he is unwilling to learn.

      • JohnEngelman

        Here are commonly accepted definitions of democracy, and republic from Merriam-Webster.

        ———-

        de·moc·ra·cy noun di-ˈmä-krə-sē

        : a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting

        : a country ruled by democracy

        : an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

        plural de·moc·ra·cies

        Full Definition of DEMOCRACY

        1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majorityb : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

        ———-

        re·pub·lic noun ri-ˈpə-blik

        : a country that is governed by elected representatives and by an elected leader (such as a president) rather than by a king or queen

        Full Definition of REPUBLIC

        (1) a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president

        (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of governmentb (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law

        ———-

        These are synonyms for each listed by Thesaurus.

        ———-

        Synonyms for republic

        noun democracy

        common wealth self-government constitutional government

        democratic state

        ———-

        Synonyms for democracy

        noun government in which people participate
        equalitystar
        freedomstar
        justicestar
        commonwealthstar
        egalitarianismstar
        emancipationstar
        equalitarianismstar
        republicstar
        suffragestar

        ———-

        So, what am I willing to learn, Geo1metric?

    • JohnEngelman

      Here are commonly accepted definitions of democracy, and republic from Merriam-Webster.

      ———-

      de·moc·ra·cy noun di-ˈmä-krə-sē

      : a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting

      : a country ruled by democracy

      : an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

      plural de·moc·ra·cies

      Full Definition of DEMOCRACY

      1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majorityb : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

      ———-

      re·pub·lic noun ri-ˈpə-blik

      : a country that is governed by elected representatives and by an elected leader (such as a president) rather than by a king or queen

      Full Definition of REPUBLIC

      (1) a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president

      (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of governmentb (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law

      ———-

      These are synonyms for each listed by Thesaurus.

      ———-

      Synonyms for republic

      noun democracy

      common wealth self-government constitutional government

      democratic state

      ———-

      Synonyms for democracy

      noun government in which people participate
      equalitystar
      freedomstar
      justicestar
      commonwealthstar
      egalitarianismstar
      emancipationstar
      equalitarianismstar
      republicstar
      suffragestar

      ———-

      So, what didn’t I learn in basic civics, Peter Connor?

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    At this point, I agree. However, our enemies, those who cannot be named in particular, always overplay their hand. When they do, they will create the very situation that will start a very violent armed revolution and or secession that will also result in huge numbers of THEM dead or expelled from our lands. It happened 109 times since 250 A.D. in every nation of Europe, especially in Ukraine and Russia. It will be no different in the near future.