This must be a very disheartening week for “progressives,” who assume that when Americans reject their attempts to “transform” society at the ballot box, they can always shop around for an unelected activist judge to force them onto everyone. Lately, judges who are willing to replace the Constitution with their own personal views have become harder to find, which is toxic to “progressivism.”
Today’s headlines bring two examples of that. First, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Baltimore law that forced a pro-life pregnancy center to post disclaimers saying they won’t refer women for abortions. The panel ruled that just as the First Amendment protects abortion providers from compelled speech they disagree with, this law violates the right of a politically and religiously motivated group not to be forced by the government to “convey a message fundamentally at odds with its core belief and mission.”
The ruling on Baltimore’s law is the latest in a series of court wins affirming the First Amendment rights of pro-life centers facing attempts to force them to parrot pro-abortion views, as you can see at this link. And it could bode well for an upcoming Supreme Court decision on a case challenging a similar statewide law in California.
Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court rejected appeals of two lawsuits aimed at striking down a Mississippi law that protects religious business owners from being forced to service same-sex weddings. The law’s proponents say that people shouldn’t have to live in fear of losing their careers or businesses just because they hold traditional religious beliefs about marriage.
Some people are trying to use this to predict how the SCOTUS will rule in the case of a baker nearly forced out of business for declining a same-sex wedding job, but that might be a reach. The SCOTUS declined to hear these cases without comment, allowing the lower court ruling in favor of the law to stand. That ruling merely found that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to sue because they hadn’t suffered any personal injury from the law. So this is really more of a punt, although one that somehow resulted in the First Amendment winning the game.
The time is coming soon, though, when the Supreme Court will have to reckon with the damage they unleashed on First Amendment religious freedom protections when they invented a right to same-sex marriage by a 5-4 vote. The minority warned of what would happen, but the majority discounted the consequences, brushing off the possibility of a legal assault on religious believers as cavalierly as they upended thousands of years of religious and societal views on marriage. Like the religious bakers, florists and others in the wedding industry who have been targeted for destruction for refusing to renounce their sacred beliefs, the SCOTUS will soon be forced to deal with the consequences of their same-sex marriage decision. Let’s hope that this time, they remember why the Founders who listed our God-given rights put religious liberty first.
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