Jack got justice, but for how long?

Jack Phillips and the Masterpiece Cakeshop won the day in the Supreme Court. The news articles called it “narrow”, but they weren’t talking about the 7-2 vote; they were referring to how narrowly the ruling itself was. The Supremes basically said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission treated Jack’s religious views in a way incompatible with how government should; with contempt rather than dispassionately. What does this mean for the future of the ruling?

And the White House recently released a list of 60 promises that President Trump has kept in his first 500 days in office. Most of the items are simply reporting statistics that show how good things have been going; there are more objective milestones mentioned than subjective goals. But if you’ve not heard about them, that’s understandable. The media aren’t really into giving credit where credit is due these days. I wonder why.

Oh, and Bill Clinton still thinks he was the victim in the Lewinsky scandal.  Really.

Mentioned links:

Bill Clinton: I wouldn’t have done anything differently in Lewinsky scandal even in #MeToo era

U.S. Supreme Court backs Christian baker who spurned gay couple

Supreme Court sides with Colorado baker who refused to make wedding cake for same-sex couple

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Justice Kennedy Strikes a Blow for the Dignity of the Faithful

Trump Releases List of 60 Promises Kept; Media Ignores

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Show transcript

From the “Who, me, too?” department comes this from NBC News:

Former President Bill Clinton says that, even in light of the #MeToo movement, he would not have approached how he dealt with Monica Lewinsky any differently and acknowledged that — 20 years after their relationship made headlines — he’s still never apologized privately to the former intern.

He responded, “no, I do not,” when he was asked whether he owed Lewinsky an apology.

What else can I add to that? He also claims that he was the victim! The man is either still in denial or still as stubborn as ever, though this is something that his enablers were completely blind to, intentionally or otherwise.

Good news on the Religious Freedom front; Jack Phillips of the Masterpiece Cakeshop won his case at the Supreme Courts, 7 to 2. Here are a few thoughts I have on that.

Some headlines called this a narrow victory, but they were referring to the ruling itself, not the vote. The justices said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an impermissible hostility toward religion when it found that Jack Phillips violated the state’s anti-discrimination law. They said commission violated Phillips’ religious rights under the First Amendment. Phillips himself has noted, and Justice Kennedy concurred, that the Commission regularly allowed other bakers to refuse to create cakes for views and opinions they did not agree with, at least 3 other times, and Phillips supported that. All he was asking for was equal consideration. But “Free speech” for the Left only means freedom for those they agree with. Their brand of “tolerance” is a one-way street.

Justice Ginsburg said this in her dissent, “I see no reason why the comments of one or two Commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips’ refusal to sell a wedding cake to Craig and Mullins.” She’s referring to especially one comment where a commissioner said that freedom of religion had been used to “justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history,” including slavery and the Holocaust. Which, I guess, means that it should never be permitted ever again. Good thing the freedom of speech has never been misused. Hmmm. And FYI, to Her Honor, no one on the commission disavowed those remarks. Ms. Ginsburg apparently missed the information that Kennedy clearly heard, that this was about the inconsistent history of the Commission, and not just one specific hearing.

For some, the question remains, though; if the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had been polite to Phillips, would they still have been able to turn him down with no ramifications? Personally, I don’t think they would have, given the history. Again, it’s about the consistent application of principles, and they were clearly inconsistent.

What the Supremes did not do was issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views. It didn’t address some of the broader claims raised in the case including whether baking a cake is a kind of expressive act protected by the First Amendment. In that sense, it was a narrow ruling.

This is why my joy over a 7-2 vote, which included Breyer and Kagan, is tempered. If the larger issues were included, I am inclined to think they’d have voted the other way, but we’ll see. There are other, similar cases working their way up, and we could get rulings on the broader ideas sooner rather than later.

But there is, in the ruling, a notice that states must indeed make tolerance a two-way street. David French, writing at the National Review and linked to in the show notes, puts it this way.

[C]ivil-rights commissions now have to understand that restrictions on religious bakers will carry with them the same implied restrictions on secular bakers, and the protections given gay customers will extend on an equal basis to religious customers. In other words, the Court not only prohibited favoritism, it imposed a high cost on censorship.

If anyone tries to tell you that Phillips was discriminating against gays, ask them this; if the Westboro Baptist Church had gone to him and asked him to create a cake that says “God Hates F…er, Gays”, should he be allowed to refuse to do it, based solely on his religious belief that God doesn’t hate them? Then just step back before their head explodes.

It’s not over ‘til it’s over, as Yogi Berra said – there are still issues to be decided that the justices punted on – but this is certainly good news.

The White House released a list of 60 promises that President Trump has kept in his first 500 days in office. Most of the items are simply reporting statistics that show how good things have been going; there are more objective milestones mentioned than subjective goals. There are things like manufacturing employment stands at its highest level since December 2008, construction employment stands at its highest level since June 2008, consumer confidence is at record highs, unemployment is at record lows, tax cuts for workers and businesses, moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, things like that. Some are promises kept, some are just good things, like the release of 17 Americans held overseas in places like Venezuela and North Korea. You might disagree with how good some of those items might be, but there’s no denying he’s been getting a lot done.

The media have not reported much on these as of the time I wrote this script. Either they’re trying to poke holes in it and are finding that time-consuming, or they’re too busy with Russia, Russia, Russia. Whatever the reason, that’s why I’m mentioning this here. There’s a link in the show notes, and one on the Facebook page, to the entire list. It might be worth it to spread it around and make sure people are getting the whole story.

So what do you think? I’m hearing a lot of people make their pronouncements on Jack Phillips that lead me to believe that they don’t have the whole story. I had one guy, who disagreed with the ruling, tell me that people have a right to sell what they sell, and they can’t pick and choose who buys it, but then he said that if you don’t make offensive T-shirts or KKK cakes, no one can force you to. I explained to him that this is exactly what Phillips does – sells “off the rack”, so to speak, to anyone, but won’t be forced to custom design something offensive to him – so clearly there is a lot of misinformed or poorly-informed opinion out there.

Filed under: Free SpeechGovernmentJudiciaryMarriageMediaReligionSame-sex MarriageTolerance and Diversity