People across the political spectrum concerned about religious liberty should give a read to an article by Matt Hadro of Catholic News Agency. The Supreme Court of Washington state has upheld a ruling that a Christian florist is not free to choose her jobs:
“It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees,” Kristin Waggoner, senior counsel with the group Alliance Defending Freedom who argued the case before the Washington Supreme Court, stated Feb. 16.
“This case is about crushing dissent. In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist,” she added.
Consider the dangerous reasoning of the court:
The law “does not compel speech or association,” the court added, stating that it “is a neutral, generally applicable law that serves our state government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.”
What couldn’t fall under this construct? Particularly problematic is that it’s built on a patently false premise: The law does “compel speech or association,” whether or not it is “neutral” or “generally applicable” or “serves [a] compelling interest.” As a legal matter, the question would be whether the law can compel such speech or association, which it clearly cannot — hence the dissembling.
As for the neutrality and general applicability, that’s of no comfort at all. A legislature (or executive or court, in our corrupted version of representative democracy) need only declare a particular group (and its behavior) as exempt from moral criticism and then forbid everybody from discriminating against it.
Furthermore, if the state government has this “compelling interest in eradicating discrimination,” why is it limited to public accommodations? And why does it protect some types of human activity and identity and not others?
People who agree with the Washington Supreme Court simply don’t believe in religious liberty for people of whom they do not approve. Whether they realize it or not, they’re implicit tyrants and very possibly bigots, too.