28 Jun Some Supreme News, Court Ruling
Wins all around! June has been a very good month for rights of conscience, religious liberty, free speech, and protection of life. The U.S. Supreme Court has been very busy this last month and we at UFI have been very pleased, and not a little relieved, about how the court has been ruling. But first, some news about the composition of the court.
On Wednesday, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announcement that he will be retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court sent shock waves through the legal and political communities. Many court watchers have been predicting Kennedy’s retirement for several years. Now that the day has arrived, there is jubilation on the part of conservatives and much hand-wringing on the part of those on the left of the political spectrum. The Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Senate have the opportunity to confirm another justice in the mold of the late Justice Scalia and the most recently confirmed Justice, Neil Gorsuch. United Families International views this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn the court solidly toward a pro-family/pro-life trajectory. We will follow this development and keep you informed as the process of selection and confirmation of a new justice rolls out.
On Tuesday, June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down a 2015 California law – the “Reproductive FACT Act” (Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act). This law required centers that offered care and help to pregnant women to prominently post information and advertising for abortion clinics – in 48-point font and in multiple languages! The penalty if the pregnancy care centers didn’t comply? A $500 fine for the first day and up to a $1000 fine for every other day they didn’t comply.
Obviously, the goal was to put the pregnancy centers out of business and subsidize abortion clinics. The U.S. Supreme Court delivered their ruling with some scorching words for the State of California, clearly stating that attempts to regulate speech are unconstitutional – whether it’s “professional speech” or an individual’s personal speech. Many commentators have noted the ridiculous nature of the law comparing it to things like; a vegan grocer being required to post directions to and advertising for the local butcher. Or, forcing Alcoholics Anonymous to provide information on the nearest liquor store. Score a big one for free speech and for unborn children!
Barronelle is the floral designer whose case, Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday, June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court “vacated” the appealed ruling and remanded the case back to the Washington State Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of the recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Barronelle has experienced the same hostility and lack of regard toward her religious perspective and rights of conscience as baker Jack Phillips experienced at the hands of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. So there is great optimism that Barronelle, like Jack, will be vindicated and have the threat of loss of her floral business (as well as personal assets such as her home) removed.
We wanted to close with a reminder of the one of the first Supreme Court rulings of the month, that of Jack Phillips and his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop. On June 4, Jack prevailed with a 7-2 ruling in his favor. There has been much written about the breadth of this ruling and its meaning for religious liberty and rights of conscience, but we stand by our comments that this is a significant ruling for religious liberty and we will watch closely as the Barronelle Stutzman’s case plays out.
We look back on the good news of the last month, as well as some solid successes coming out of the UN during the 2018 “commission season,” and feel very grateful and optimistic. We frequently have to dig deep to come up with positive news to report, so we are thrilled when we get to share so many positive, family-friendly wins coming out of the Supreme Court.
On the UN front, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) will take place in New York July 9-18. We will be following this high-level event and the documents coming out of it. So stay tuned. Let’s see if we can keep the good news coming!
Tori Black, President
United Families International
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