You may have heard that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop. The case involved Jack Phillip’s (a Colorado baker) decision not to create a custom cake for a same-sex “wedding.” After a complaint was filed, the Colorado Human Rights Commission sanctioned him and sent his employees (mostly family) to government re-education classes so they could be taught just how wrong Jack was to do what he had done. In the process, Philips lost over 40% of his business.
In their decision, the Supreme Court concluded 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the rights of Jack Philips.
Only moments later, the left began to emphasize that the case wasn’t a huge deal. “It’s a narrow ruling,” they said as often as possible.
It is true that the decision could have had more sweeping implications. The court did not answer the underlying question about whether it is always unconstitutional for a government to compel an expressive artist to engage in speech they oppose on religious or conscience grounds. Nor did they answer the question about whether custom cake decoration is expressive art.
But there is a breadth to this decision that should not be ignored.
The Court referenced the fact that commissioners had compared Jack Phillips to slave owners and those who propagated the holocaust when it concluded that, “The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of [Mr. Phillips] case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.”
Impermissible hostility toward sincere religious beliefs?
For many progressives, that’s a foreign concept. After all, hostility towards religious beliefs is not a bug in today’s progressive movement; it is a primary feature.
From firing people from their jobs, to forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion, to forcing people to pay for abortions, to creating deeply offensive sex education curriculum, to refusing to allow parents to opt their children out of these classes – their entire social policy agenda is steeped in hostility toward the religious views of people they despise.
Consider what has happened in other cases.
When Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was dismissed from his job because of his views about marriage, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said that Mr. Cochran’s views meant he is not qualified to “manage a diverse workforce.”
The city of East Lansing, Michigan created a law for the singular purpose of keeping a blueberry farmer from another town out of their Farmers Market because he indicated on social media that he would not host a same-sex “wedding” on his property.
When the California Assembly was recently debating legislation to ban books that discuss how sexual orientation can change, Assemblyman Muratsuchi said that it was time for religious conservatives to “evolve with the times.”
Even members of the New Mexico Supreme Court have gotten in on the action, suggesting that being “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives” is simply “the price of citizenship.”
Tim Gill, probably the largest donor to LGBT political causes in human history, told Rolling Stone magazine that the priority of their movement after the Obergefell decision redefined marriage was to “punish the wicked.”
And don’t forget Sen. Cory Booker’s grilling Mike Pompeo over whether he likes gay sex or Sen. Feinstein’s opposition to an otherwise qualified federal judge because she is concerned that, as a faithful Catholic, “the dogma lives loudly within [her].”
We are just scratching the surface here, folks.
However, according to the majority in Masterpiece, it’s not ok for government actors to be motivated by a disdain for people’s religious beliefs. This is like telling giant cats in Africa they can’t eat meat anymore.
So here’s the dilemma for the left.
Progressives in government will be forced to choose between their political overlords and funders who demand hostility toward religious beliefs and the Supreme Court which said it is unconstitutional.
Will they choose a kinder, gentler approach to make sure the things they do are no longer motivated by animus toward religious believers? Color me skeptical.
Remember, they’ve spent the last decade insisting that those who disagree with them are Klansmen and Nazis, that the only thing that cannot be tolerated is intolerance, and that speech they disagree with is violence.
This is the same crowd that thinks Hillary lost the Presidency because she was too moderate. It is the same crowd that has refused to endorse Diane Feinstein in her bid for re-election to the United States Senate from California because she’s not progressive enough.
They don’t engage in the battle of ideas, because they don’t believe people who hold ideas that are different than theirs deserve respect associated with engagement.
Long ago they abandoned argumentation in favor of public shaming, ridicule, and economic terrorism. An opinion from the Supreme Court is unlikely to cause introspection or change.
So, while hostility to religious beliefs may end up invalidating a lot of the things they do, that same hostility will continue to grab headlines, earn them progressive brownie points, and fill up campaign coffers.
So my money is on the left continuing to do what they do and if it turns out the Supreme Court meant what they said in Masterpiece, the implications of this decision could be very broad indeed.