Conservative judge determined to weigh in on same-sex marriage controversy


On the Supreme Court, the conservative majority appears to have a new mantra of halfway.

Starting with oral arguments on Monday, conservatives on the court appear to have made their minds up. They sidestepped the lack of clear facts in the case, ignored the worst-case consequences, and pared down rulings that in the past seemed to disadvantage a Colorado website designer who refused to serve same-sex couples.

Justice Samuel Alito was even prepared to cite the Obergefell v HodgesA milestone in 2015 that gave same-sex couples the right to marry, as certain business owners can reject the claims of same-sex couples.

He noted that the opinion’s author, now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, had referred to “noble” people who might oppose same-sex marriage, while Alito suggested that “religious objections to same-sex marriage” could be distinguished from other objections . For example, discrimination based on race.

Other judges on the right emphasized the expressiveness of the work of website designer Lorie Smith, downplaying the fact that she runs a commercial enterprise subject to the state’s public accommodation laws.

“When you’re talking about her sitting down with a design and coming up with graphics to customize them for the couple, you’re on your strongest position,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett told Smith’s attorney Chris Ting Wagner.

The conservative justices seemed unconvinced by the fact that, as liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted, if they ruled for Smith, “it would be the first time in the court’s history that …a commercial enterprise that is open to the public, and serves the public, may refuse to serve customers based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.”

Lorie Smith SCOTUS same-sex couple plaintiff screenshot

Artist explains why she doesn’t think she should be working with same-sex couples

The right-wing majority, combined with three appointments by former President Donald Trump, signal a single-minded focus on changing certain areas of the law, particularly those involving religious freedom.

Individual judges made it clear they believed religion was under siege and Christian views suppressed. They ruled broadly, even though the facts of the case may show that believers were not victimized.

Last session, the court ruled 6-3 (a conservative majority against liberal dissidents) in favor of a football coach who was suspended by a Washington state public school district for praying at halftime after a game.

most, in a Opinion of Justice Neil Gorsuch, portraying coach Joseph Kennedy’s behavior as humble and lonely, far from being damaging to players or those near the field. Dissidents argued that the majority misunderstood the facts of the case, ignored how Kennedy’s actions would affect students and violated the Constitution’s separation of church and state. Opponents took the rare step of including in their comments images of Kennedy surrounded by players kneeling in prayer.

In the most significant controversy of the last session, Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which had some religious overtones, conservative judges went beyond the legal issues raised and firmly struck down half a century of precedent, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide for the first time.

In a 2018 case between a Colorado baker and the state civil rights commissioner enforcing a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation, a judge ruled on narrow legal grounds. They sided with baker Jack Phillips, a devout Christian who was sanctioned for refusing to make a custom cake for a gay couple. But the decision was based on specific facts related to the anti-religious bias expressed by individual commissioners.

In a dispute over Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Supreme Court declined to rule on whether corporations have First Amendment free exercise or speech rights to discriminate against same-sex couples based on personal beliefs.

In Monday’s chapter, the justices discussed whether website designer Smith had a free speech right to create a wedding website for same-sex couples. The case lacks the factual record of the Masterpiece Cakeshop dispute because Smith was challenging the law before it was used against her.

She is seeking an injunction to stop any law enforcement that refuses to create a website for non-male marriages. She said such actions would damage her Christian faith.

Under questioning by liberal judges, Wagner said even the basic message of announcing same-sex marriage would put Smith in a bind.

“If you think the wedding is fake, then the government forces you to say things you wouldn’t otherwise say,” Wagner said. “The court’s commitment in Obergefell was to protect those who believed that marriage was between a man and a woman from expressing views that violated their conscience.”

Yet while Kennedy expressed respect for those opposed to same-sex unions, his broader sentiment reflected concerns about the discrimination LGBTQ people face.

“Many who believe that same-sex marriage is wrong reach that conclusion on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here,” he wrote. “However, when such sincere, personal disapproval becomes law and public policy enacted, the corollary is the exclusion of the State’s own sanction, an exclusion that quickly degrades or humiliates those whose liberty is subsequently deprived of Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples in marriage, and denying them this right devalues ​​their choice and diminishes their personhood.”

Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson has defended the state’s ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation, urging a judge to avoid giving the court’s “endorsement” to a web designer who “says no to people of the same sex.”

“The free speech clause exemption that companies are seeking here is comprehensive because it applies not only to sincerely held religious beliefs, such as those of the company and its owners,” he said, “but also to all kinds of racism, Sexist and bigoted people. Opinions.”

Olson tried to argue that anti-bias laws are not meant to stifle any free speech, but to ensure that businesses do not discriminate based on the identity of their customers. Most conservative judges remain skeptical.

Judge Neil Gorsuch insisted that Smith was willing to offer “various types of sites other than one that required her to write something on the page, write, a customizable site…to celebrate something that offended her religion. website.”

Olson insisted that Smith wanted to exclude couples based on same-sex status and that religious exemptions could be provided in specific circumstances. Still dubious, Gorsuch brought forward the allegations against the baker by Phillips and the state.

“Mr. Phillips does undergo a re-education training program under Colorado law, doesn’t he, Mr. Olson?”

“It’s a process of making sure he’s familiar with Colorado law,” Olson countered, and Gorsuch rejoined. “One could be forgiven for calling it a re-education program.”

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