Other Views: Piece of cake for Supreme Court

Piece of cake for Supreme Court

 

In his novel, “1984,” George Orwell tries but fails to describe what little freedom citizens have under the constant surveillance of the government of Oceania.

“Nothing was your own,” he writes in chapter two, “except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” Yet by the end of the novel, he is proven wrong. Under physical and mental torture, the story’s protagonist is forced to give up those few cubic centimeters.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a case about a cake artist in Colorado. Jack Phillips is being persecuted for harboring private beliefs insufficiently enthusiastic about gay marriage.

Phillips made custom cakes to order and served any customer, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. But there were some things he wouldn’t do. One was to subscribe to the cause of same-sex marriage, to spread a message about that newfangled institution that he believed to be false.

So he refused to bake a cake expressly celebrating gay marriage. And this refusal to join the cheering got him into trouble with something called the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which effectively barred Phillips from practicing his art in accord with conscience.

This case is not a hard one to judge. We don’t put musicians out of business for refusing to play concerts in protest of local and state laws they judge to be unjust.

Phillips refused to put his artistry to work to promote what Christian teaching says is a sin. But the secular orthodoxy of overweening, modern egalitarianism decided, like a 21st-century Inquisition, that he must be punished until he changed his mind.

If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, it will buttress state power at the expense of the Bill of Rights. It would endorse coercion to force people to pretend to believe what they understand to be false. This would shatter the First Amendment.

Instead, the justices can and should say loudly and clearly that states may not sit in judgment on their citizens’ beliefs about right and wrong.

— Washington Examiner

 

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