Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Civics Test

Todd Starnes is a particularly obnoxious reporter for Fox News who now has the monumental sadz because the state of Oregon has told a couple of Christian bakers that they violated the state’s public accommodation law by refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.  He sums up his veil of tears by citing the Constitution thus:

The evidence seems to indicate that Christian business owners are being intentionally singled out for persecution. And it appears the courts are consistently ruling that gay rights trump everyone else’s rights. The Constitution guarantees every American a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Melissa Klein makes wedding cakes. That’s her pursuit of happiness. Should she be denied that right simply because of her Christian faith?

Raise your hand if you see the flaw in his argument.

Okay, I’ll give it to you: The Constitution does not guarantee “every American a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Those words are in the Declaration of Independence, which has no force of law.  There is nothing in the Constitution about those guarantees.  There is, however, the right to equal protection under the law which has been interpreted by the courts and just about anyone who went to law school to mean that you can’t have a business that is open to the public and choose not to serve a certain segment of the public because you think they’re icky.

3 barks and woofs on “Civics Test

  1. One more flaw: the decision doesn’t say Ms. Klein can’t bake wedding cakes. It says she can’t do it as a business and select her customers based on defined criteria that the state prohibits. She’s free to do that as a person, however despicable it might be; but a commercial enterprise does not have that, um, luxury.

    This is why the Hobby Lobby decision is wrong: the business is – and should be – distinct from the owners. It has to be to shield them from the business’ failures, and it insulates them from compromising their own personal ideals (and fortunes) by doing so. Joining the two together is dangerous for far more reasons than simply assuming that the “business” shares its owners philosophy: among other reasons it has the potential to hold both accountable for the business’ other faults (shoddy merchandise, hazardous work conditions, monetary losses etc). I strongly doubt BPs execs would want to pay for Deepwater Horizon, Dimon for Chase’s investment shenanigans, or the Cathys (owners of Chik-fil-a) for mandated healthcare coverage, out of their own pockets; Hobby Lobby makes that an arguable possibility. Using the dodge that as businesspeople they feel entitled to discriminate (just because they say their scripture tells them to or because some people are icky to them) will expose them to far more liability for far more diverse things than they will expect – or want.

  2. I won’t be as clear and specific as Boatboy but I’ll just throw out a general thought… these decisions affect more than the gay community. Doctors, pharmacists, etc. may be able to refuse treatment, etc. based on their personal beliefs. This would be a complete reversal of medical ethics. Just saying.

  3. As far as “icky” segments of the public go, there’s still at least one that businesses can legally discriminate against. When will the shirtless and the shoeless have their day?

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