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The Baker Case
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The justices are considering whether the First Amendment forbids the state of Colorado from requiring a baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
The case involves Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who in 2012 told a same-sex couple that he would make a birthday cake for them but not a wedding cake.
He said that by baking a cake for their wedding, he would be promoting same-sex marriage and thus violating his Christian beliefs. The case has worked its way up the judicial ladder over the past five years.
This is a highly anticipated case. People began camping out since Friday on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court to secure a spot in the gallery. It’s incredible and frightening that the survival of the religious liberty promise of the American founding may come down to a question of whether a baker with strong Christian beliefs can tell a same-sex couple that he can’t bake their cake because it would violate his faith.
Two years ago, I had lunch with a Supreme Court justice who told me they didn’t think there were five votes on the court to preserve religious liberty. I pray that justice is wrong.
You will recall that all of this started years ago with a debate over the definition of marriage. Back then, the left and the radical gay rights movement made a version of a libertarian, live-and-let-live argument: You can marry who you want, I just want to marry who I want. And a lot of Christians, particularly young Christians, bought that argument. It was, we were told, a matter of love to accept it.
But as is almost always the case with radical social change, what started out as a libertarian appeal inevitably turned into a movement to use of the full power of the federal government to threaten and browbeat everyone into kneeling in submission to the new normal.
It’s a variation of what has happened in the abortion debate. The pro-abortion movement started out arguing that women should have “the right to choose” to control their own bodies, but recently has focused its efforts on forcing nuns to subsidize abortions.
Travel Ban Win
Yesterday afternoon the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration’s latest version of the so-called “travel ban” can go into effect. The decision effectively lifted injunctions imposed by federal district court judges in Hawaii and Maryland.
The travel ban was an executive order signed by President Trump temporarily banning entry into the United States of foreign nationals from eight countries overridden with terrorists or otherwise hostile to the U.S. The law gives the president broad authority in restricting the entry of immigrants as he sees appropriate in order to protect national security. Lower courts had issued their injunctions on dubious legal grounds, including one judge who ruled that the ban was invalidated by Trump’s “anti-Muslim” rhetoric.
This doesn’t end the debate. The Supreme Court’s decision merely allows the travel ban to be enforced while the courts of appeal in two circuits issue their rulings on the bans. Depending on what happens there, the Supreme Court could rule again, this time on the legality of the ban itself.
Yesterday’s ruling provides a window into the thinking and leanings of the justices on the ban. And it indicates that the justices might just be willing to rule in favor of the ban.
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