First was the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court decision, reversing Colorado’s order against the baker who wouldn’t make a special cake for a same-sex wedding due to his Christian convictions.
Two days ago, the Court gave Barronnelle Stutzman, the florist in Washington state, a big boost by vacating the order imposed on her by her state, followed by remanding the case back to Washington courts. I’ll have someone explain why that’s a win in a couple of paragraphs from now.
Then yesterday, that same Court (which we often love to hate) told California that it cannot force pro-life organizations to promote abortion services.
Some on the conservative side have commented that the Masterpiece decision was too narrow; their concerns are valid, but so far it isn’t playing out that way.
The organization that took the lead in arguing all three of these cases is Alliance Defending Freedom. Michael Farris, the president, CEO, and lead counsel for ADF has some pertinent comments on these decisions. He notes on the Stutzman case,
â€œGrantedâ€ means that the Court agreed to hear her case. But it heard it summarily and issued an immediate order.
â€œVacatedâ€ is that order. The prior decision is wiped off the books.
Remanded means that it was sent back to the Washington courts to reconsider in light of the Masterpiece decision.
This is very good news in at least two ways.
First, it protects Barronelle for the time being. And gives her a real chance for a full victory.
Second, it shows that the Masterpiece decision is not narrow as many claimed. It has precedential effect and was not limited to the Colorado facts.
In the other case, known as NIFLA, Farris commented,
The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that California violated the First Amendment rights of prolife pregnancy centers by requiring them to advertise for abortions and make other unfavorable disclosures.
The case will be remanded but the directions given by the Supreme Court are extremely strong.
Here’s some of what the justices said, first from Clarence Thomas:
When the government polices the content of professional speech, it can fail to “preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail.” If States could choose the protection that speech receives simply by requiring a license, they would have a powerful tool to impose â€œinvidious discrimination of disfavored subjects.â€
Then Anthony Kennedy, of all people, wrote this:
This law is a paradigmatic example of the serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression. For here the State requires primarily pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the Stateâ€™s own preferred message advertising abortions. This compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs, beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical, or religious precepts, or all of these.
In response to California’s claim that what it was promoting was “forward thinking,” Kennedy offered this succinct and powerful history lesson:
It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come.
Powerful and poignant words.
ADF’s website, shortly after the announcement of the NIFLA decision, rejoiced over the decision:
Pro-life pregnancy centers in California will no longer be forced to be a mouthpiece for the abortion industry.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of free speech, striking down a California law that would force pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion. . . .
Whatâ€™s even worse is the fact that this law specifically singles out pro-life pregnancy centers. Drafted, proposed, and supported by abortion advocates, this law is a thinly-veiled attempt to target a viewpoint that the state of California doesnâ€™t like and replace it with the government-approved viewpoint.
This is government-compelled speech at its worst. Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled that this requirement is unconstitutional.
This ruling makes it clear that no one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions, especially on deeply divisive subjects such as abortion.
Yet, as ADF acknowledges, the fight goes on:
And while this is a crucial victory, the work is not done. Unfortunately, California is not the only state that is trying to stamp out the pro-life message. ADF is also challenging similar laws in Illinois and Hawaii.
Thatâ€™s why we must stay vigilant.
I’m thankful for organizations like ADF who maintain that vigilance. But keep in mind these are victories via law only; the culture remains to be redeemed from this ready acceptance of the abortion holocaust and the sexual agenda that is being pushed on everyone. The Christian message must continue to go forth in love and strength of purpose.