Inside the U.S. Supreme Court this week for the oral arguments for Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission I couldn’t help but look at Justice Neil Gorsuch and imagine how things would be if Merrick Garland were rightly sitting in that chair.
Had Republicans not stolen that seat, refusing a vote on President Obama’s nominee for almost the entirety of his last year in office and allowing Donald Trump to put Neil Gorsuch ― an ideologue on the issue of “religious liberty” ― on the court, we would not be in this dangerous predicament.
That is, we’d not be once again worried about a wavering Justice Anthony Kennedy, this time about the issue of whether or not a business open to the public can bar service to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people based on the business owners’ religious beliefs.
It was stunning to many people that the Supreme Court even took up the case of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, who refused, on religious grounds ― claiming a violation of First Amendment rights ― to make a cake for a gay couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, who came in to buy a wedding cake. Other similar cases in states with laws barring discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations had been rejected for review by the high court after lower courts ruled against the businesses.
But there we were, with Gorsuch on the court and with Chief Justice John Roberts seeming to be squarely with Gorsuch and the conservatives. Many progressive legal observers are concerned ― some very much so ― and the general consensus among journalists who cover legal issues is that it will come down to Kennedy, and that he, by his own history, could side with the baker. It’s often forgotten that on another gay rights decision, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, Kennedy joined the majority in a 2000 ruling that the Boy Scouts could ban gay scouts and scoutmasters on First Amendment grounds. Read more via HuffPost