Unanimous Supreme Court Rules Govt Can’t Judge Speech Based on How ‘Worthy’ It Is
A Supreme Court ruling on speech might have implications for Christians who object to serving people who engage in same-sex marriage since “speech” is the issue. A baker has no problem selling a cake to someone who identifies as homosexual and engages in same-sex sexuality, but that same baker should have the freedom to refuse to make a cake for an event that she finds objectionable.
Similarly, a baker who opposes the ownership of guns, should not be forced to make a cake for the NRA or Gun Owners of America. The free speech rights of both groups are thus protected.
The following is from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decisively affirmed Thursday that the government cannot play favorites when it comes to free speech. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent an Arizona church in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, a case involving restrictions on temporary signs that provided the vehicle for the justices to reaffirm and clarify that the government cannot single out one form of speech over another based on how worthy the government thinks it is.
“The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling is a victory for everyone’s freedom of speech. Speech discrimination is wrong regardless of whether the government intended to violate the First Amendment or not, and it doesn’t matter if the government thinks its discrimination was well-intended,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman, who argued before the court in January. “It’s still government playing favorites, and that’s unconstitutional.”
“The government cannot target one form of speech with severe restrictions while allowing more speech for others in similar circumstances, which is what Gilbert’s ordinance did,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Furthermore, the courts cannot use a test that allows that discrimination to happen.”
In its decision, the high court threw out a free speech test used by some courts that allowed the government to decide what speech is more valuable and thus entitled to greater protection under the First Amendment. The test improperly excused unlawful discrimination so long as the government said its motive was good. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit used that test to determine that Good News Community Church’s religious signs expressed far less valuable speech than what the town called “political” and “ideological” signs, thereby justifying the town’s stricter limits on the church’s signs.