The Arizona Supreme Court ruled this week that a Christian-owned art studio cannot be compelled to make wedding invitations for a gay couple.
In a 4-3 decision, the state’s highest court ruled that the City of Phoenix can neither compel the Christian business to cater to a gay wedding nor can the city impose fines or jail time for violating the city’s rules.
Phoenix punished the owners of Phoenix-based Brush & Nib Studio, Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, with a $2,500 fine and a threat of six months in jail for refusing to make the invitations for a same-sex couple.
But the court ruled against the city.
The business owners were sanctioned for violating the city’s 2013 ordinance that supposedly prohibits discrimination based on “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”
According to Fox Business:
“Duka and Koski’s beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some,” wrote Justice Andrew Gould in the opinion of the court. “But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive.”
“To conclude, we hold that the Ordinance, as applied to Plaintiffs’ custom wedding invitations, and the creation of those invitations, unconstitutionally compels speech in violation of the Arizona Constitution’s free speech clause,” Gould wrote.
While dissenting Judge Christopher Staring essentially agreed with the central reason for rejecting the city’s position, he also worried that the decision would serve as an excuse for discrimination.
“Among other things, I am concerned that, ironically, today’s holding could be relied on to discriminate against individuals based on their religion and religious beliefs, notwithstanding the fact that both Arizona and Phoenix include religion as a basis for protection in their public accommodation laws,” Judge Staring wrote.
Free speech and freedom of religion advocates celebrated the decision.
“Today, freedom won,” attorney Jonathan Scroggs of Alliance Defending Freedom told Fox. “Everyone should enjoy the freedom to peacefully live out their beliefs without fear that the government will silence them or force them to promote messages that violate their core convictions. That freedom should be protected, regardless of whether people share the government’s point of view. We’re encouraged that the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled today to protect that key freedom— guaranteed by the Constitution and so crucial to American life.”
This week’s ruling is just one more example that these anti-First Amendment rules put in place by extremist, let-wing states and city governments are unconstitutional.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.Don't forget to Like The Washington Sentinel on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our friends at The Republican Legion.
Former Obama Official Richard Stengel Says America Needs To Ban ‘Hate Speech’
No thank you!
MSNBC analyst suggested that the U.S. should ban hate speech.
“As a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier,” he said. “Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why they asked me would you ever want to protect that?”
He suggests there’s a precedent that would allow states to experiment with European-style “hate speech statutes to penalize speech that deliberately insults people based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.”
MSNBC political analyst and former Obama administration official Richard Stengel argued that America needs to outlaw hateful speech, including Koran burning.
“Yes, the First Amendment protects the ‘thought that we hate,’ but it should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another. In an age when everyone has a megaphone, that seems like a design flaw,” Stengel argued in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday.
Stengel, who worked as the managing editor of Time magazine before becoming undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department under President Barack Obama, endorsed the creation of a hate speech law in the op-ed. The MSNBC analyst said his experience in the Obama administration led him to renounce the idea that the Constitution protects “not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate,” quoting Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
“As a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier,” he said. “Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?” More
This is where the Democrats would take us. He doesn’t get that being an outlier is a good thing. The devil is in the details. Who gets to call something hate speech The Left or The right? That’s why free speech is exactly that free speech. No one can shut it down or should be able to shut it down.
Here’s an extra little nugget that’s sure to make your blood boil too:
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