Wednesday 17th August 2022

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Free Speech Or Forced Speech… Public Accommodations Vs. Religious Liberty

October 17, 2017 Frontpage No Comments

By MIKE MANNO
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, right? Well, mostly, but we’ll deal with the exceptions another time. What concerns me this week is whether there is a corresponding right not to speak, and, if so, what constitutes actual speech, and how far does this go?
The courts have long held that speech need not be verbal, or, for that matter, contain words. It can be symbolic, such as wearing a black armband to protest the Vietnam War. It can be vulgar, pornographic, and can even take the form of an inanimate object or a piece of art. So since the government cannot, in general terms, prohibit the exercise of free speech, even in symbolic terms, can the government force you to speak against your will?
Generally the government may not require you to convey a message against your will. Generally. For example, New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live Free or Die,” and state law required license plates to be embossed with the motto. State law also made it a misdemeanor to cover or obscure the plate.
Back in the late 1970s, a Jehovah’s Witnesses couple, George and Maxine Maynard, objected to the motto, claiming it violated their religious, moral, and political beliefs. After being convicted several times for covering the motto, the Maynards ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled in favor of George and Maxine.
“A system which secures the right to proselytize religious, political, and ideological causes must also guarantee the concomitant right to decline to foster such concepts. The right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of the broader concept of ‘individual freedom of mind’,” the court said.
In determining that New Hampshire’s interest in having the motto displayed was not “sufficiently compelling” to enforce the law against the Maynards, the court, quoting an earlier line of cases, stated, “Even were we to credit the State’s reasons and ‘even though the governmental purpose be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties when the end can be more narrowly achieved’.”
In legal parlance, the state needed a “compelling state interest” to control the Maynards’ free speech rights, and if the state did articulate such an interest, it must proceed in the narrowest, or least restrictive, manner possible.
In the 1990s the issue of LGBT groups marching — as supporters of the LGBT agenda — in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade went before the Supreme Court. Massachusetts’ lower courts had held that the state’s public accommodation law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation applied to the parade organizers. Thus the state courts ruled that although the law did not mandate the inclusion of the LGBT groups, it did prohibit discrimination against them and any infringement on the parade sponsors’ right to expression was only “incidental.”
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, holding this type of parade is a form of “protected expression” because it is making a public statement of belief. The state court’s interpretation, therefore, violated the parade organizers’ free speech rights since the inclusion of the LGBT groups forced the parade sponsors to alter or compromise their message.
These cases follow in a line from West Virginia v. Barnette, a 1943 case in which Jehovah’s Witnesses parents challenged a state law that made schoolchildren salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Reversing its own holding of three years earlier, the court stated:
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or to force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
Now enter the new world of political correctness and the newly articulated right of the courts to change the definition of marriage so as to allow same-sex couples (and perhaps multi-partners — see last week’s column about that) to enter into matrimony and we are seeing an apparent roll-back of the First Amendment rights not to speak.
On September 20 a federal district court in Minnesota ruled that Carl and Angel Larsen, who own a videography business, must use their talents to serve same-sex couples in making wedding videos if they provide that service for traditional marriage. To do otherwise would violate Minnesota’s public accommodation law. According to the court:
“The Larsens want to create films that will be played at weddings, published on their website, and shared via social media to tell a story of love, commitment, and vision for the future that encourages viewers to see biblical marriage as the sacred covenant God designed it to be. But if they do so, [the state will] require that they also tell stories promoting other types of marriage, including same-sex marriage, in the same way and through the same channels.”
The court further stated, “As an initial matter, the Larsens plan to post language on their website stating that they will not create wedding videos for same-sex couples. To the extent the Larsens argue such a statement is protected by the First Amendment, and thus the operation of the [law] would unconstitutionally curtail such speech, the Court finds there is no constitutional problem.”
The court went on to rule against the Larsens. Their attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom have stated that they will appeal the ruling.
So, are the Larsens being treated differently than in the preceding cases? Before you answer, consider a few other well-publicized cases:
In Washington State a local florist, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, refused to arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding. The client was a regular at Arlene’s Flowers and Barronelle knew the man was a homosexual. That did not stop her from selling him flowers, but when he asked for arranged flowers for his wedding, she declined, but did offer to sell him flowers that he could arrange himself.
As a result of the “emotional toll” this took on the client, he scaled back his wedding plans, fearful, he said, that other businesses would refuse him service and that the wedding might attract protesters such as the Westboro Baptist group.
So he did the All-American thing: He sued Arlene’s Flowers for violation of Washington’s public accommodation law, calling this sexual orientation discrimination. Barronelle replied that by forcing her to arrange flowers for the wedding she would be using her “imagination and artistic skill to intimately participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony,” thus forcing her to endorse a message with which she disagreed.
The Washington courts ruled against Arlene’s Flowers, holding that the floral arrangements were not “inherently expressive” and thus did not constitute compelled speech.
Earlier, in a highly publicized case from New Mexico, photographer Elaine Huguenin refused to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony” (note this was before either New Mexico or the U.S. Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage), stating that she did not want to use her artistic expression to communicate a message at odds with her belief.
The New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed Elaine’s concerns and found that she had violated that state’s version of the public accommodations law: “[T]o allow discrimination based on conduct so closely correlated with sexual orientation would severely undermine the purpose of [the law].” This was, the court said, the price Elaine had to pay for her citizenship. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case in April of 2014.
This case was followed by any number of other cases dealing with bakers, wedding calligraphy, and purveyors of websites. But the one that has drawn the most interest is from a baker in Colorado, Jack Phillips, who operates Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood. Same story as in the above cases: Same-sex couple asked for a wedding cake, Phillips refused on religious grounds, and the case went to the state court of appeals where Phillips lost.
The difference in this case is that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear it. The application to hear the case, called a writ of certiorari, was filed in July of 2016 and went before the judges in at least 18 separate conferences until the court finally granted the application last June shortly after Neil Gorsuch was confirmed and took his seat on the court.
Also noteworthy, Barronelle Stutzman has also filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court and most court watchers expect the court to grant certiorari and combine it with Masterpiece Cakeshop which might put an end to this form of “forced speech.”
However, before anyone gets too excited, we need to look at these forced speech cases and what exactly was being forced. In the earlier Live Free or Die case the state was mandating that the state’s motto be displayed to the public by the state’s drivers. In the parade case the parade was being protected from being forced to publicly communicate a message that ran against its belief. In the school case the children were being forced to recite a pledge with which they disagreed.
In all these cases — and others too numerous to mention here — the court found that the objectors were being forced to either publicly adopt a message that they found repulsive and that the force came from the state.
With the bakers, florists, photographers, and others, the common thread is that they are not being forced to publicly affirm the message their products might carry. In other words, they are being asked to provide a service that does not convey to the public any message other than that which the client is articulating. No one, the argument goes, would believe that the cake maker supports or encourages same-sex weddings.
And, the argument goes, the license plate and other cases involve the government directly telling a person or organization what message they must convey — not so with public accommodation laws which are neutral laws of general applicability.
Of course that begs the question of what government action is. Can it be construed as judicial enforcement of public accommodation laws? And if so, what about the printer asked to print KKK flyers? Can that printer refuse? Similar cases have held both yes and no, so it seems that the Masterpiece case will either be decided on narrow grounds upholding the business man’s right to his religious conscience, or the wider ruling that public accommodation laws do not force speech.
Time will tell, but I think the court’s nearly one-year wait until Justice Gorsuch’s presence to accept the case is a tip that it will lean in favor of religious liberty.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Catechism

This Past Week in The Wanderer . . .

">

Are We Blundering into a Military Conflict with China? The Left Wants to Abolish Everything . . . The House Just Voted to Abolish and Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act!

Today . . .

Toyota Sponsors Lesson on ‘First Steps’ of Drag Artistry for Children

Toyota sponsored an event for “LGBTQ+ Youth” that featured a performance from a drag performer and a workshop on “the first steps of becoming a fabulous drag performer.” The event, called “Models of Pride,” was hosted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and was intended for those 24 years and younger. No minimum age was listed on the website. The Los Angeles LGBT Center described it as “the world’s largest free conference for LGBTQ+ youth…Continue Reading

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Signs Abortion Ban to Protect Unborn Babies

The Indiana legislature has become the first in the nation to pass an abortion ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. The measure went to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who signed the bill into law almost immediately on Friday night. Earlier today, the Indiana state House approved a bill to ban most abortions and tonight the state Senate voted to confirm the changes to the initial bill 28-19. With Holcomb’s signature, the law will go…Continue Reading

Southern Maryland parish forbidden to offer traditional Latin Mass after investing in quarter million dollar renovation and decoration for the purpose

Nightmare and heartbreak. Parishioners of Saint Francis de Sales in Benedict, Maryland, devoted to the Church’s traditional worship, installed a new pine floor, painted altars and gradines, hung chandeliers and lamps, and painted a monumental mural. And more. After an extensive professional renovation and painting of the church’s entire 100-year-old plaster interior walls and ceiling. 

Bishop urges Catholic educators to see importance of the Eucharist

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Addressing Catholic educators at an annual national conference, Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, Washington, urged them to make sure their work was always rooted in the importance of the Eucharist. The bishop, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education, said schoolteachers should help their students more deeply appreciate the sacrament amid the current National Eucharistic Revival.

” A Misunderstanding” ?BISHOPS WILL ALLOW LESBIAN TO FOSTER A CHILD

From The Washington Post:  An unmarried lesbian will be allowed to foster a child after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) let a lawsuit alleging discrimination go unchallenged, suggesting single LGBTQ adults may be able to foster through Catholic organizations while same-sex couples generally continue to be banned.

Bloodlust

By CINDY PASLAWSKI Back when my husband was in boot camp in early 1970, his group of draftees was being trained for combat. Bayonet practice was particularly onerous to him. With every thrust, the guys were told to yell, “To kill! To kill!”The anti-Roe v Wade privacy decision protests swirling continuously around our nation remind…Continue Reading

1 In 10 U.S. Households In 2019 Worth More Than $1.3 Million

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY Ten percent of the households in this country at the end of 2019 — just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit — had a net wealth of more than $1.3 million, according to a report published last month by the Census Bureau.There were also definite patterns among households that had higher wealth…Continue Reading

The FBI Doesn’t Seem To Care Enough To Explain Their Trump Raid

By NEIL PATEL From the moment Donald Trump came down the escalator to formally step onto the political stage, America’s leading establishment figures have misjudged what was happening. Most still refuse to think deeply about what drove such massive popularity for Trump. Some of it was his focus on issues, such as extended wars in…Continue Reading

“The Viruses Among Us”

By BARBARA SIMPSON Have you grown tired of it yet? The news — radio, TV, print, Internet, and whatever else there might be — has been filled lately with information about and warnings against the monkeypox virus.To read what is being reported, you would think that monkeypox is the only virus that humans have to…Continue Reading

Who Won The Taiwan War Games?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defied White House signals that she not stop in Taiwan on her valedictory tour of Asian capitals, she ignited the worst diplomatic U.S.-China row in decades.And how did last week’s collision turn out for the United States?Writes The New York Times:Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan began…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

You Can’t Take It With You… But You Can Send It On Ahead

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on July 30 and it is reprinted here with permission. Because of the essay’s length, we are presenting it in two parts. The first part appeared in last week’s issue.) + + The Illusion of Wealth — The parable goes on to say, And [the man]…Continue Reading

Least Of The Least

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-First Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21Heb. 12:5-7, 11-13Luke 13:22-30 At the end of the Gospel reading today our Lord says something that is simultaneously hopeful and terrifying. He tells us that some who are first will be last and some who are last will be first. For those of us who more…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. The Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium (n. 36) says that Latin is to be preserved in the Roman Rite, and it goes on to say that the people should be taught to sing or say in Latin the parts of the Mass pertaining to them. So, is there anything wrong with softly saying those parts of the Mass in…Continue Reading

The Freedom To Be Catholic

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK News of my parish’s imminent demise in the wake of the death-dealing Traditionis custodes has spread through the Internet and at least one Catholic video news source of the independent sort. Many of the so-called “official” sources like to pretend we don’t exist.One news outlet used a video of mine about a transgender children’s story…Continue Reading

You Can’t Take It With You… But You Can Send It On Ahead

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on July 30 and it is reprinted here with permission. Because of the essay’s length, we are presenting it in two parts. The second part will appear in next week’s issue.) + + Five teachings on wealth from the Gospel of the 18th Sunday of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Therese Of The Little Flower

By DEB PIROCH “Let us accept all from the hand of our good Father, and He will keep us in peace in the midst of the greatest disasters of this world, which pass away like shadows. In proportion to our abandonment and confidence in God will our lives be holy and tranquil. And where this abandonment is neglected, there can…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Michael, Slayer Of Dragons

By DEB PIROCH Where there is evil, there is the Devil, and where there is good, there is God. It is high time for the world to make this connection in an era when the family unit is rapidly dying, leading to all sorts of destruction. Some children don’t even know their parents, angry teens engage in gang violence, and…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)