Quick Hits: Gators, Cocoa Beach, Religion And Cakes.

We haven’t done one of these posts in awhile. Many times we see things we want to write or comment on, but the item just doesn’t have enough “meat” to make a full post (in our opinion.) So here are a couple of things we looked at:

The Florida Gators won their first ever national championship in baseball the other day. The Gators swept SEC rival LSU in the championship series and walked away with the trophy. Many LSU fans were upset with an interference call against the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh inning which cost them a run, but the call was correct. It seems that the days of being a gracious loser are gone and people have to blame everyone else. (The Gators first two runs of the game were unearned due to LSU errors. Should we blame the companies who made their gloves?)

Anyway, while not as impressive as the Maryland Terps winning the NCAA Lacrosse Championship, congratulations to the Gators and their fans.

The Ocean Dunes case in Cocoa Beach was heard last week before an appellate board. Each side was given ten minutes to present their case and to field questions for the judges on the panel. Trying to read outcome from the questions and the tone of the discussions is like trying to pick a winner in the Kentucky Derby four years before the race is run. You just don’t know. However, reports from our ninjas say that the plaintiffs were happy and thought the judges understood their points and were asking the questions that bolstered their side.

A decision is expected within 3 – 6 weeks. As soon as we hear about it, we’ll let you know.

This past Monday the Supreme Court ruled that a Missouri Department of Natural Resources policy of forbidding and denying any grants to schools that are orwned or controlled by a church is unConstituitional under the First Amendment. The case is Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer. Trinity Lutheran, like other schools in Missouri, had applied for a grant to refurbish and make their playground safer by purchasing recycled tires as a base. The State of Missouri denied the grant based on a policy that forbid making grants to religious schools. We could and do understand the rule if the grants were being provided to purchase religious materials but that is not the case here. The school wanted the same access to grants to for their playground that other private secular schools had.

By a vote of 7-2, (Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissenting) the Supreme Court said “no, you have to treat the school like any other school when it comes to non-religious acts.”

It appears to us that the Supreme Court is back to understanding that the First Amendment’s establishment clause is a coin with two sides – not one as some have argued. The government can’t promote a religion but neither can its policies harm a religion or put undue burdens upon it.

We think they got it right.

The Supreme Court also decided to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a bakery whose owner declined to design and make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding on religious grounds. A Colorado administrative judge ruled the company had to make the cake.

The Colorado Supreme Court declined to take the case after the state’s Court of Appeals affirmed a Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision from May 2014. That decision ordered Phillips and his employees to create cakes that celebrate same-sex ceremonies and required Phillips to comply with Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act by re-educating his staff (which includes members of his own family) and filing quarterly “compliance” reports for two years.

(Is it just us, or does “re-educating his staff” sound a lot like “re-education camps” in communist countries?)

Walter Olson over at the CATO Institute has a good summary of the issue as well as citing several posts on why the bakery should not be forced to create a cake celebrating an idea or action with which it disagrees.

As for us, we disagree with the idea of gay marriage. We think it is a sin, but at the same time we recognize that under the law it is legal and have even said it should be legal due to the 14th Amendment and the equal protection clause.

That being said, no one should be forced to create something that goes against their moral values.

In this case (as in others) artists were asked to create something – to put their creative talents to work in a specific way for a specific event.

If the bakery had refused to sell a dozen cupcakes sitting in their display case because the a couple was gay, a different race, or different religion, we would tell the bakery to suck it up and sell them the cupcakes.

Yet a “one off” cake is different. You purchase a wedding cake because of the quality of the cake (yum yum) as well as the quality and artistry of the cake itself. Couples want a “pretty” cake (or at least a good looking one.)

We don’t think that anyone would say that a Jewish speech writer should have to write a speech for a Neo-Nazi group. We don’t think that anyone would say that a black baker should be forced to create a cake celebrating the Ku Klux Klan. We don’t think that anyone would say that a Muslim artist should be forced to create a picture of Mohammad dying. A pro-choice graphic artist should not be forced to create flyers and promotional materials for pro-life clients.

The creation of something unique is an expressive act. It has been declared by the Supreme Court to be part of “freedom of speech” or “freedom of expression.”

No one should be forced to create something that supports or celebrates ideas with which they disagree.

We have always wondered why some people think that compelled speech is allowable. Certainly the Supreme Court doesn’t think so. It has ruled that students cannot be compelled to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Why should a baker be compelled to create something with which they disagree?

The argument has always been “a business has limited rights.” We disagree with the premise of that statement and wonder when did making a living and supporting oneself and ones family be subject ro the re4duction of ones rights. Even so, in schools there are limits to the First Amendment and students do not enjoy the same protection under the First Amendment as they would elsewhere.

So why did the Supreme Court rule that students, whose freedom of speech is restricted in schools, cannot be made to recite the Pledge but people making a living (with supposed restrictions of rights) cannot say “I won’t create that cake. I would express an idea with which I disagree.”

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court passed on taking a similar case but now this one will be heard.

We hope that the justices will decide that freedom of expression is something to be protected against the oppression and forced acts of the government.

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