Supreme Court Tries To Have Its Cake And Eat It Too…
We’re not trying to be flippant here. It just took us a while to decipher this ruling. And the oversimplification of a lot of the reporting as a huge setback for the LGBTQ+ movement (which it may be, but also may not be) didn’t help.
We’re not legal scholars, so we made an attempt to search out and aggregate information from those we trust, and then distill it down:
- The Court did rule in favor of the baker in Colorado, Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple saying it went against his religious beliefs.
- The final vote was actually 7-2. Not the typical 4-3 Conservative/Liberal split.
- The reason it’s being referred to as a “narrow ruling” is it’s not intended to set a broad precedent to be applied willy-nilly in other, similar cases. In the majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, he explains in this case, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (in particular, one Commissioner) exhibited “some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated [the cake maker’s] objection.”
- At the same time, Kennedy writes: “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts….all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
- Just as a side note, it was Justice Kennedy who also wrote the majority opinion in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide. That vote was 5-4.
- Here’s how UC Irvine Law Professor Rick Hasen explains it in a Tweet:
- Here’s a link to an interesting discussion on Scotusblog, even though it ultimately argues the ruling should’ve been more decisive in favor of the cake maker, on the grounds of religious liberty and free speech. Kennedy’s ruling, however, did not discuss free speech much at all.
- The ruling also revealed some serious feuding between the newest Justice, Neil Gorsuch, and Justice Elena Kagan. Even though she also voted in favor of the decision, Kagan wrote:
- “As Justice Gorsuch sees it, the product that Phillips refused to sell here–and would refuse to sell to anyone–was a ‘cake celebrating same-sex marriage’. But that is wrong. The cake requested was not a special ‘cake celebrating same-sex marriage’. It was simply a wedding cake….”
- Problem is, even if this ruling has no traction, it takes a long time for cases to reach the Supreme Court. This dispute started in 2012, three years prior to the ruling that legalized same sex marriage nationally. So despite Kennedy’s warning not to aggressively do so, the decision will undoubtedly be used in other cases of the same type, in the absence of any other ruling by the Court.
- An earlier ruling by the Colorado Court Of Appeals, which has now been overturned, made the most common sense to us. It found that people would understand the baker was not making a personal statement with the cake, and it did not restrain him from privately saying anything he wanted about same-sex marriage. But common sense doesn’t always win out in court.
- In effect, the Court sidestepped this one, leaving it up to lower courts to figure out what to take from it, if anything at all.
Mueller Plays Hardball
Prosecutors late last evening accused Paul Manafort of witness tampering involving use of encrypted messaging apps to attempt to contact two witnesses. That could land Manafort in jail immediately while he awaits trial.
Of course, what may be most significant is how Trump responds to this. Trump could play this two ways:
- Continue to depict Manafort as someone he doesn’t know very well, even though he ran Trump’s campaign from June 2016 until Steve Bannon took over in August. In recent days Trump has even blamed the “F.B.I. or Department of ‘Justice’” for not warning him about Manafort’s chequered past.
- Receive this as a “shot across the bow” by the Special Counsel; Mueller’s way of answering back Trump’s frenzied attack Tweets of recent days and weeks, and pardons and talk of pardons (including of himself) designed to send a message to those possibly getting squeezed by Mueller they needn’t worry.
Why Trump Snubbing The Philadelphia Eagles IS Important
Pennsylvania sports fans are rabid and have long memories.
As you probably heard by now, the President cancelled a celebratory visit by the Super Bowl Champions to the White House scheduled for today. Many of the Eagles were not going to attend.
And yes, it’s just another stunt devised by the President to please his base and distract from other stuff. Instead Trump issued a statement saying he’ll conduct “a different type of ceremony–one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.” That’s an integral part of the false narrative the President has created about NFL players “taking a knee”. Which has nothing to do with support of the military; it’s about racism and police brutality.
Here’s Trump’s full statement:
Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes out of nearly 6-million votes cast. And he usually doesn’t make a habit of disrespecting people who voted for him. No, he didn’t win Philadelphia. At the same time football-wise, the state is pretty much split in two. The Western half roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Eastern half–the Eagles fans–include many counties that went heavily for Trump. We’re not saying everybody living in these areas won’t remain Trump fans, but they’re sure as heck still going to still be Eagles fans. And they’ll remember this.
Of course Trump’s decision created a back-and-forth Twitter war. Here’s the Tweet we thought summed up the situation best, from former Eagles Wide Receiver Torrey Smith:
Philadelphia’s Mayor, Jim Kenney meanwhile, punched back at Trump hard, saying in a statement:
“Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”