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Extremist Supreme Court licenses discrimination
Allowing a web designer to turn away gay couples opens the floodgates to discriminate against LGBTQ people, Jews, Muslims, Blacks, women and any group based on "free speech" and "religious liberty."
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Today and yesterday, combined, was a bloodbath at the Supreme Court.
In addition to the partisan 6-3 decision throwing out President Biden’s modest student debt relief plan—affecting millions of struggling Americans—and the destruction of affirmative action, we have the horrendous 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, sanctioning broad discrimination in public accommodations.
In this travesty of a case, there was no discrimination—and no actual business yet that could be accused of it.
The whole thing was a front for Christian nationalists to gut public accommodations laws, and the six radicals on the court went for it.
A self-professed Colorado website designer, Lorie Smith, said her Christian faith means she has to turn away customers wanting wedding-related services to celebrate their same-sex marriage. But she’d not actually been open for business yet in making marriage websites—nor had she been sued by any gay couple wanting her services.
That alone should have thrown out the case, as she had no standing. But the radicals had other ideas.
Gorsuch handed down the decision, saying it was "free speech" and religious freedom in a "creative" business that was threatened, and the still-non-existent customers forced Smith to potentially embrace the message of the customer. But this is ludicrous, as the sites she was planning to sell were templates the customer accessed, which she didn’t even need to work on. More to the point, any business can claim to be “creative.” Can a funeral parlor turn away gays, Jews, Muslims, or Blacks because they have to dress the body and put make-up on it?
The examples are endless regarding the ramifications.
Justice Sotomayor, in a blistering dissent, laid out the damage the court did, saying the decision was "profoundly wrong," and underscoring that Colorado civil rights law "targets conduct, not speech, for regulation, and the act of discrimination has never constituted protected expression under the First Amendment. Our Constitution contains no right to refuse service to a disfavored group." She pointed to the discrimination LGBTQ people face every day.
Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people. The Supreme Court of the United States declares that a particular kind of business, though open to the public, has a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class. The Court does so for the first time in its history…
…Sadly, it is also familiar. When the civil rights and women's rights movements sought equality in public life, some public establishments refused. Some even claimed, based on sincere religious beliefs, constitutional rights to discriminate. The brave Justices who once sat on this Court decisively rejected those claims.
The decision opens the door to massive discrimination. As I said, every business owner can claim their work is "creative" and turn away Jews, Blacks, women, or any other group based on "free speech" and "religious liberty." In the immediate aftermath, we will certainly see businesses of all kinds putting up notices they don’t serve gay couples, transgender people, or all LGBTQ people, getting cover from the Supreme Court.
Just think about what would have happened if the Obergefell marriage equality decision were to be decided by this Supreme Court—if this court were in place in 2015. What would the outcome be?
The answer to that will give you a road map of where the court is going on marriage equality, same-sex couples, and LGBTQ people.
We need to completely reorganize our government. We must expand the court, put in term limits—do something to reform it.
We allow radicals appointed by an authoritarian president to have lifetime appointments, continuing his authoritarian program.
And they are wielding extraordinary power. This is not democracy.
Programming note: I’ll be taking a much-needed vacation at the end of July, the 19th through the 30th, and will likely not be posting here.