Religious Liberty is Still Under Attack

jack phillips - with his cakes, masterpiece cake shop (photo credit - matthew staver for the new york times)

(Photo Credit – Matthew Staver for The New York Times)

by Diane Rufino, January 11, 2019

GREAT NEWS !!

But first the bad news:  Religious liberty continues to be in jeopardy in Colorado, the home of Christian baker and cake artist, Jack Phillips, and his Masterpiece Cakeshop.

But here is the good news:  The judicial system has once again ruled in its favor. A federal district court in Denver has ruled that Christian cake artist and baker, Jack Phillips, can proceed in his lawsuit against the State of Colorado for its alleged continued harassment of him on account of his religious beliefs. The district court, in allowing the case to go forward, found there is evidence that there continues to be hostility against Phillips on account of his religious beliefs which is responsible for the unequal treatment against him.

You may remember that Phillips was censured by the state of Colorado (the Colorado Civil Rights Commission) for declining to create a cake for a same-sex couple back in 2012. The couple had asked for a 7-layer cake, representing the colors of the rainbow, with two men in tuxedos being married on top. Phillips declined the request, explaining that the message he would be sending through his design would offend his sincerely and deeply-held religious beliefs. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission claiming Phillips and the Masterpiece Cakeshop discriminated against them in violation of the state’s public accommodations law, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). The Commission agreed and ordered the cakeshop owner and his staff to undergo a rigorous re-education program (teaching “tolerance”), as well as to invoke certain serious restrictions on them [by requiring that he bake cakes for same-sex couples (ie, he cannot discriminate for any reason) and requiring that he and his staff record, subject to regular state audits, every customer who requests a custom cake and the reasons when a request is denied]. Phillips appealed but was denied, and then finally appealed the Commission’s decision to the Colorado appellate court. The court upheld the Commission’s finding and decision. Phillips chose to stop creating wedding cakes rather than cave to government coercion. He lost a significant portion of his income and could no longer support the staff he had working for him. He, with help from the pro-First Amendment legal team, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

In June 2018, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case (Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission), ruling that Phillips was wrongfully prosecuted for declining to bake the cake. Rather than address the actual issue of “compelled speech” or religious liberty (see below), the decision rested on the obvious hostility towards religion that clearly motivated the Commission to take action and penalize the Christian baker. For example, in 2014, Commissioner Diann Rice makes the following comment just before denying Phillips’ request to temporarily suspend the commission’s re-education order:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in…the last meeting [concerning Jack Phillips]. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust… I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use – to use their religion to hurt others.”

On June 26, 2017, the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Jack Phillip’s appeal, an attorney, Autumn Scardina, called Masterpiece Cakeshop and requested a birthday cake. During a discussion of the customer’s preferred specifications for the confection, Scardina revealed that she wanted the cake to have a pink interior and a blue exterior. Then she added that the colors were to celebrate her coming out as transgender on her birthday, some years earlier. At that point, Debi Phillips (Jack’s wife, and the co-owner of the cake shop) declined to create the cake because of the Phillips’ belief that gender is biological, and immutable.

Scardina later asked Phillips to design a cake with satanic themes and images—a request that Phillips also declined because of the message the cake would communicate. Scardina then filed a civil rights complaint against Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, charging discrimination on the basis of gender identity, a protected status under Colorado anti-discrimination law.

Less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled for Phillips in his first case (June 2018), the state of Colorado surprised him by finding probable cause to believe that he violated the CADA by declining to create the requested gender-transition cake. The Commission concluded that the statute includes transgender individuals in its prohibition against discrimination based on gender.

As with his decision not to create a cake celebrating gay pride and same-sex marriage, Phillips’ decision not to make the pink/blue cake which clearly was intended to express a message celebrating Scardina’s transgender status was based on his connection to (and what outsiders might view as his acceptance of) that message and not based on the identity of the customer.

In response to this renewed attack against him, Jack Phillips and his lawyers with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed their own suit, in the US district court in Denver, against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and specifically, Aubrey Elenis, the director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division. It was Elenis who issued the finding that that there is “sufficient evidence” to support a claim of discrimination against Phillips. ADF argued that “the state of Colorado is violating Phillips’ First Amendment free exercise of religion rights by continuing to treat him differently than other cake artists and by acting with hostility toward him and his faith.”  District court Judge Wiley Y. Daniel issued a ruling on January 4, concluding that Phillips may proceed with a second lawsuit claiming the state of Colorado is again wrongly prosecuting him. Judge Daniel said there is evidence of unequal treatment against Phillips, given that the state of Colorado, through the Commission, allows other cake artists to decline requests to create cakes “that express messages they deem objectionable and would not express for anyone.” This “disparate treatment,” the court said, “reveals” the state officials’ ongoing “hostility towards Phillips, which is sufficient to establish they are pursuing the discrimination charges against Phillips in bad faith, motivated by Phillips’ religion….” The ruling further added that Phillips “has adequately alleged his speech is being chilled by the credible threat of prosecution.”

A commissioner set to decide the state’s new case against Phillips has publicly referred to him as a ‘hater’ on Twitter, which was just one of several clear indications of the commission’s ongoing bias against him, the bad faith motivating its continued harassment of him, and its outright hostility towards his beliefs.

ADF also argued that Colorado is infringing Phillips’s due process rights, and that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission’s adjudicative process is flawed because the same commissioners act as both accusers and adjudicators in the same case, an arrangement that the Supreme Court condemned in a 2016 decision. There is probably a 14th Amendment challenge as well, alleging arbitrary treatment under its Anti-Discrimination statute.

It is important to understand the issues at the center of this continued hostility towards Jack Phillips. It is not simply the case of one person claiming another violated his civil rights or aggieved him in some way. It is not simply the case of an employer being sued because he offer a job to someone else instead of the minority candidate. This situation is one where the state itself has taken a formal position that anti-discrimination rights and the rights of groups like the LGBT and transgender community are more important than the historic and founding right of religious freedom. Today it may be the state that is trying to take away our religious liberty right, but tomorrow, it may be 30 states, and then the federal government itself. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission stemmed from the baker’s refusal, on the basis of his faith, to design a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. The Colorado government then attempted to compel him to do so, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission treated Phillips with open hostility, even comparing his invocation of sincere religious beliefs to defense of the Holocaust. Additionally, they treated him differently from other cake artists who had declined to design custom cakes because of the images they would have conveyed.

The Supreme Court found that Jack Phillips did not act out of animus (hatred) when he politely declined to make the same-sex couple a cake celebrating gay pride and same-sex marriage [which was not allowed, by the way, in the state of Colorado at the time of the suit (2012); in fact, according to the state constitution, the only marriage recognized in the state was between a man and a woman]. He offered them any other cake he had in the shop and offered to bake them any cake they liked, but he just could not “create” an artistic cake to celebrate same-sex marriage.

Animus and blind intolerance form the crux that makes discrimination so offensive. But that is not what happened in the case of Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It was a case of a man, a Christian, believing the First Amendment protected him in his right to exercise his deeply-held religious beliefs (Free Exercise of Religion) and protected him from being coerced into expressing a viewpoint that goes directly against what he believes (Free Speech and the Right to be free from compelled Speech).

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (or CADA) outlaws discrimination in the area of public services, goods, and accommodations – yet it makes several exceptions for certain groups of people who have particular sensitivities – such as Muslims (can refuse a customer if they feel it offends Allah or the Koran), atheists (obvious; they don’t have to be compelled to make anything with a cross or a bible verse, etc), and African-Americans (don’t have to accept business which they feel discriminates against them, or which represents white supremacy). We all know that discrimination, in many forms, continues to exist in the marketplace. Fashion designers who were outraged over Trump’s election refused to design for our stunning First Lady, Melania (wow, what a stupid decision there!)  Bruce Springsteen and other artists refused to perform concerts for those who hold political views they don’t agree with. Businesses choose states to move to or expand to that are favorable to their political views, and reject those that are unfavorable. The list goes on.

Indeed, over his years as a cake artist, Phillips has declined to create cakes with various messages that violate his faith, including messages that demean LGBT people, express racism, celebrate Halloween, promote marijuana use, and celebrate or support Satan. It was the refusal to create a custom cake for the same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, and the backlash created by the LGBT community, that prompted the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (tasked with reviewing challenges under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act) to file a suit against him. As the ADA continues to explain: “Jack serves all customers…But Jack doesn’t create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his deeply-held beliefs.”  He will tell you the same thing himself.

Apparently, tolerance is not a two-way street.

In addressing the issues presented in Jack Phillip’s case against the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission – Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018 decision), the Supreme Court focused primarily on his claim that CADA, and the Commission itself (ie, the state of Colorado) was forcing or compelling him to engage in speech that he disagreed with.  The creative process whereby Phillips designed a custom cake to represent and mark the particular occasion is a form “expression” or “expressive speech,” which is protected under the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech provision. Therefore, as his ADF lawyers argued, he cannot be compelled or forced to create a cake that delivers a message that the government demands him to deliver but that he personally opposes.

And the Supreme Court has upheld such a view. In its “compelled speech” rulings, the Supreme Court has protected the right not to be forced to say, do, or create anything expressing a message that one rejects. Its most famous cases are West Virginia v. Barnette (1943) and Wooley v. Maynard (1977). In the Barnette opinion, the Court barred a state from denying Jehovah’s Witnesses the right to attend public schools if they refused to salute the flag, and in the Maynard opinion, it prevented New Hampshire from denying people the right to drive if they refused to display on license plates the state’s libertarian-flavored motto “live free or die.” The justices of the Supreme Court addressed both cases during oral arguments and referenced them in the Court’s opinion as well.

The question, of course, was whether the liberal members of the Supreme Court would agree that cake design constitutes “expression.”  It turned out that all agreed that it does.

The main purpose of having a cake “created,” as opposed to buying a ready-made cake, isn’t to satisfy a sweet tooth or to top off the meal; the main purpose is aesthetic and expressive. That is why they are displayed in such a creative way or in a choreographed fashion at receptions or parties, and that is why they are often the center of a live program (such as the feeding of the cake by the bride and groom to one another), much like a prop in a play.  Luckily, the Court was able to distinguish between simple goods and services (not requiring expression) and services like those offered by Jack in creating a custom cake, which involve expression.

In that case, NC Family co-signed a “friend-of-the-court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court and, in November 2017, led a North Carolina delegation of concerned citizens (including myself and several of my friends) to Washington, D.C. to show support for religious liberty and Phillips. In June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Phillips’ favor.

While progressives (like those who sued Phillips in the 2017 case for not baking a gay marriage celebration theme for a same-sex couple, and now those currently suing him, transgenders) believe the First Amendment must remain silent when a person’s views make another feel uncomfortable or hurt their feelings or make them feel undignified, or when a person’s religious beliefs result in what may be viewed as discrimination against a group of persons, the reality is that the First Amendment has no “conditions” on it. And, as the plain language of the Amendment, as well as the Preamble to the Bill of Rights, makes clear, there is no right for the federal government to impose any conditions on it.  Incorporation of the First Amendment on the States (thru the 14th Amendment, or even per the Bill of Rights included in the state constitution) prohibits the state legislature as well from making any law that abridges the right of free speech and the right to exercise one’s religious beliefs. The First Amendment is precisely needed when one’s ideas offend others or when it contradicts the orthodoxies of the reigning social and political majority. In those times, in particular, it protects more than one’s freedom to speak one’s mind; it also guards one’s freedom not to be forced, compelled, or coerced (including by law) to speak the mind of another.

Here is some sobering information:  Since 2014, approximately $9.9 million in grant funding has been collected for the sole purpose to oppose religious liberty and protections for religious freedom.  Welcome to the new America. The grants predominantly come from LGBT groups, backers of the LGBT movement, abortion supporters, and those calling for government-provided contraception coverage. These grantees, in general, hold the position that abortion rights and anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT individuals are equally important, or more important than religious freedom. Next time you hear the LGBT community demand tolerance, keep this in mind.

Again, welcome to the new America.

Friends, the fight continues.  Either we have the Right to Speak freely or we don’t.  Either we have the Right to Believe as we want and to Freely Exercise our Religion or we don’t. In other words, either we are free or we are not.

I will keep you updated as this new case develops.

 

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References:

NC Family Staff, “Jack Phillips Can Continue His Fight Against Government Harassment,” NC Family Policy Council bulletin, January 11, 2019.  Referenced at:  http://my.ncfamily.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=5170.0&dlv_id=9031

Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis, “Opinion: First Amendment Wedding Cake,” New York Times, December 4, 2017.  Referenced at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/opinion/first-amendment-wedding-cake.html

“Colorado Loses Bd to Dismiss Cake Artist’s Lawsuit,” Alliance Defending Freedom, January 7, 2019.  Referenced at:  https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/press-release-details/colorado-loses-bid-to-dismiss-cake-artist-s-lawsuit

“Christian Cake Baker’s Second Lawsuit Can Go Forward, Federal Judge Says,” Catholic News Agency, January 7, 2019.  Referenced at:  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/christian-cake-bakers-second-lawsuit-can-go-forward-federal-judge-says-24315

“Revealed: Colorado Commission Compared Cake Artist to Nazi,” Alliance Defending Freedom, January 12, 2015.  Referenced at:  http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/9479

The Persistent Racist Accusations of the NC NAACP and Its Continued Attempts to Frustrate a Voter ID Law in North Carolina

Rev. Anthony Spearman - NC NAACP (photo courtesty of Virignia Pilot)

(Photo source: Associated Press and the Virginian Pilot)

by Diane Rufino, December 4, 2018

On November 6, an amendment to the North Carolina constitution requiring voters to present a photo identification for voting in person (the “Voter ID” amendment) passed with 55 percent support. The language of that amendment, per House Bill 1092 (H.B. 1092) which gave rise to the amendment, states: “Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.”

The next step in the process, of course, is to back the amendment up with appropriate legislation. The NC General Assembly officially began that task when it reconvened in Raleigh this week.

With this in mind, we can predict what the North Carolina NAACP, other black activist groups, and Democrats/liberals will do —  challenge any proposed legislation as too strict, too burdensome, and too discriminatory on black voters. Any law will be challenged as an orchestrated attempt to disenfranchise black voters at the ballot.  It has already filed a motion for Summary Judgement to declare all four of the adopted amendments void as being the product of an illegal general assembly (The NC NAACP holds that the election of the 2017-2018 General Assembly body was the product of racially-motivated gerrymandering and hence illegal).

On November 15, Reverend T. Anthony Spearman, the head of the NC NAACP held a press conference and outlined the group’s opposition to a photo ID law.  He said: “The North Carolina NAACP calls on all people of good will to attend the ‘All Roads Lead to Raleigh’ rally on November 27 as we prepare for a usurper general assembly which came to power illegally through racially-discriminatory maps and which will meet in Raleigh in a lame-duck special session to make a final effort to enshrine discrimination in our laws.”

He said the proposed amendments which were on the ballot on November 6 were “misleading and unlawful” and “forced upon North Carolina” by an illegal general assembly.

He continued:

“We will continue to fight the anti-democracy racist Photo ID law and its attempt to suppress black votes. A Photo ID discriminates against blacks, Hispanics, people of color, immigrants, and veterans. These people cannot be disenfranchised from their rightful access to the ballot box. Democracy requires that they have access to the ballot box.

History teaches us, and our hearts know it to be true – morally and constitutionally and practically that North Carolina is trying once again to suppress the votes of black people. I speak to our history……

Even before the ink was dry on President Grant’s clear signature on the 15th constitutional amendment on March 30, 1870, the slaveholders of North Carolina and the other ten treasonous states who declared war on the red, white, and blue flag and its government, had met in their lily-white caucuses to design schemes to deny and abridge, to suppress and gerrymander the black vote power down to nothing. Like today, in many NC counties, black voters were in the majority and anyone who could count could understand that if people voted by their racial category, the white man was going to lose. Like today, Mr. Berger and Mr. Moore hide in their lily-white caucus in our people’s house, and plan, with all their tricks, how to ram thru legislation and over-ride vetoes. Their motivations are clear. Their intent is to intimidate, trick, and confuse poor black voters…. “

He continued:

“The 15th Amendment states clearly – ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” House Speaker Moore, Senator Berger… What is it about the 15th Amendment’s clear guarantee that you don’t understand?  Perhaps we should hang the 15th Amendment high on a banner outside the lily-white caucus room in which you scheme up your scams. Will you have your police arrest us for holding up the Constitution, which you purport to love? The US Supreme ruled twice, in cases our organization brought, that the Photo ID legislation that you all passed (obviously talking to the NC General Assembly Republicans) was intentionally racist, ‘targeting voters of color with surgical precision.’ (quoting from the decision of the 4th Circuit’s 2016 opinion). You have contemptuously ignored the court’s ruling.

The second sentence of the 15th Amendment is even more elementary than the first. It reads: ‘The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.’  In 1965, Congress authorized the Voting Rights Act and re-authorized it three times. Since last Tuesday, many believe the votes are there to pass the bill (the Photo ID bill) that was stalled in the house. Thank God. The House used every trick I the book to abridge, curtail, trick, suppress, supplant, scare, intimidate, humiliate, and violently kill people, characterize them as felons, frame them as felons, imprison them as felons, and create impossible barriers to register – such as finding and producing birth certificates when high proportions of older black voters today were born with midwives with no birth certificates at all.

Even before the ink was dry on President Grant’s clear signature on the 15th constitutional amendment, sore-loosing slaveholders began organizing a defeated confederate army into secret political societies. In North Carolina, not far from here, in Alamance County, Colonel Sanders, from Chapel Hill, shed his gray uniform and donned a silly-looking white sheet to ride with burning sticks. That being in the White House and Nazi groups were particularly upset when black and white neighbors came together and began challenging the fake history that glorifies the statues of Robert E. Lee.  Perhaps it would be worthwhile to erect statues of Ulysses S. Grant across the South since many of our neighbors and students don’t seem to know who won the war to abolish slavery…….”

Wow, what a mouthful of racism….   So much hatred oozing from his words.

NOTE:  Spearman was absolutely INCORRECT (and perhaps even intentionally misleading) in his claim that the US Supreme Court has ruled on the NC Voter ID law. The Supreme Court DECLINED to look at the law (see later).

Well, at least we know now that the NAACP, with its extreme racist political position and its toxic, offensive, racist, and hate-filled rhetoric, is once again hoping to derail honest intentions to ensure honesty and integrity in North Carolina elections and once again framing the initiative (voted on by a majority of the voters in NC) as one pursued by Republicans for the purpose of intentionally disenfranchising blacks. Its intent is clear – to fight a restrictive Photo-Voter ID law.

And keeping its word, the NC NAACP held its protest beginning in the morning of November 27 (as the special lame-duck session of the NC General Assembly met to take care of business) on the Bicentennial Mall, headlined by its head, Rev. Spearman, and Rev. William Barber. In keeping with his rhetoric of November 15, Spearman shouted these words: “Senator Berger, Speaker Moore, what is it about that clear guarantee in the 15h Amendment that you cannot understand?”

Spearman thinks the racially-divided South of the Jim Crow era and pre-Civil Rights era has never ended. He needs a reality check. Sure, racism existed for a long time in our country. No one can deny that and no one does. But to think that it exists on a level even close to what it did back during the Jim Crow era and even up until the early 1960’s is sheer dishonesty. Although it took far too long for blacks to be recognized with full civil rights, the federal government not only stepped in to solve the problem but it went far beyond, granting all kinds of special protections, government over-sight, court orders, and affirmative action programs to remedy generations of past discrimination. Every race was discriminated at some point in our 20th century history (including Italians, Irish, Chinese, Middle-Easterners – all facing employment practices that excluded them from being hired. All faced horrible stereotypes which translated into the government intentionally limiting their numbers or banning them through our US immigration laws). Yet only one race has received and continues to receive special protection. Just look at all the federal and state laws that protect blacks and punish employers, schools, public accommodations, etc who attempt to discriminate against them. There are even laws that make it particularly easy to sue on the basis of racial discrimination. (When whites sue for discrimination, including when they are discriminated against in their application to universities in favor of blacks who are far less qualified, they are told that there is no law that protects them and hence, those schools are given great latitude and deference as to what they choose to do in reviewing and accepting applicants).  Only one race believes it holds the copyright on discrimination and disenfranchisement.

Writer and journalist Rachel Lu (of The Federalist) is tired what she sees as constant, unfounded accusations of racism from the left. She explains: “Liberals need racist foes to vanquish. Most of the time they have to resort to finding them where they obviously aren’t there.”  What I think she means is that accusations of racism by Democrats and other leftist groups are means to an end.

We see how racial discrimination has been dealt with in employment and public accommodations, so let’s look at how race influences things these days in other areas that really matter:

A 2005 study by Princeton sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung compared the effects of Affirmative Action on racial and special groups at three highly selective private research universities, including Harvard University. The data below, which is from the study, represents admissions disadvantage and advantage in terms of SAT points (on the old 1600-point scale):

Whites (non-recruited athlete/non-legacy status): 0 (control group)

Blacks: +230

Hispanics: +185

Asians: –50

Recruited athletes: +200

Legacies (children of alumni): +160

In other words, whatever the SAT test score that a white applicant received, the university judges that student and weighs his or her application exactly on that score. Whatever SAT score a black applicant received, the university automatically adds 230 additional points to the score before that applicant’s application is reviewed and judged and compared to other applicants. Hispanic applicants have their SAT scores upgraded and recruited athletes as well (and legacies, but we all kinda suspected that). Universities (again, at least the top private universities which were the target of the study) punish Asian applicants by automatically subtracting points from their earned SAT scores before reviewing their applications.

In 2009, Espenshade and researcher Alexandria Walton Radford, in their book No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal, examined data on students applying to college in 1997 and calculated that Asian-Americans needed nearly perfect SAT scores of 1550 to have the same chance of being accepted at a top private university as whites who scored 1410 and African Americans who got 1100.

After controlling for grades, test scores, family background (legacy status), and athletic status (whether or not the student was a recruited athlete), Espenshade and Radford found that whites were three times, Hispanics six times, and blacks more than 15 times as likely to be accepted at a US university as Asian Americans.

It’s hard for most Americans to understand the notion that blacks are insidiously discriminated today in American society.

President Obama signed two federal orders, one in 2011 and another in 2016, which strengthened the ability to use race-related affirmative action to enroll in elementary and secondary education, as well as an Executive Order to require schools to ease off on punishing blacks in their school discipline policies (Obama assumed that since blacks were disproportionately the target of high school disciplinary action, the policies or the school administrators must be racist]. President Trump rescinded the federal orders.

The NC Voter Integrity Project, in talking about cases of voter fraud in North Carolina, recalls the incident where a black woman voted multiple times. No one wanted to say anything or call her out on it because they were afraid it would create a scene. Finally, on the third or fourth time voting, one poll worker finally questioned her. She immediately started screaming “They are trying to disenfranchise my vote!” She said she was voting for her black neighbor. The poll officials essentially did nothing; she was told to come back with her neighbor. As it turned out, she HAD voted multiple times, she LIED and DECEIVED the poll officials, the poll officials CHOSE to look the other way and ignore the fact that she voted illegally, and poll officials DECLINED to go to the officials about what she had illegally done. Once that brave poll worker left, she could continue to keep voting. (The last attempt at voting, she gave the name of her neighbor, a man).  Imagine if a white man had claimed: “I’m white and they are trying to stop me from voting.”  What do you think the outcome would be?  And people wonder why a photo ID is absolutely necessary.

Again, it’s hard for most Americans to understand the notion that blacks are insidiously discriminated today in American society.

The Supreme Court has said, in so many words and in many different ways, that our laws have done everything possible to eradicate discrimination against blacks and there is nothing else that can, or should be, done. To continue affirmative action programs (except in professional programs, such as law schools, for example) would be to violate the 14th Amendment as reverse-discrimination.  All that being said, I deplore racism in any form, whether it is outright in its action or application or whether it results by disparate application of law or policy. There is something wrong with a person who thinks that just because a person has a different skin color, there is something fundamentally different about what’s underneath – in his or her heart or mind. There isn’t…..  Unless, of course, it is the skin color that compels people to act differently, in a bad way – in a way that harms society. We are all different, on so many levels, but to think that skin color, a feature that a person is born with and has no ability to change (unless he or she is Michael Jackson) somehow makes that person inherently superior or inferior is the very definition of racist.

We can hold our own opinions regarding culture, cultural values, cultural conduct, and cultural priorities, and that is, in fact, where we are today. And that is our right as individuals who are allowed to think freely. It is our right of conscience and are right of association. But what we should never do is think that any one group of persons, simply based on skin color, is inherently inferior or superior. And we should never impute a bad quality to a group of persons simply because of skin color. Yet we see that all too often, from both sides.

And that’s why I hate racists; I hate what they have done to our society and what they continue to do. I hate race baiters and race mongers. I hate that they constantly force people to look at the characteristics that we can’t change, like skin color, rather than the characteristics that we have control over, such as character, personality, intelligence, talent, kindness, goodness, the ability to promote harmony, and the ability to make others smile. I hate racists from both sides. But to be honest, aside from neo-Nazi groups and strict white supremacists, the real racists are the ones on the left, and yes, from the black community like the NC NAACP, the Democratic Party, Reverend Al Sharpton’s black activist group, Black Lives Matter, the liberal mainstream media, and more. No one takes the neo-Nazis or the white supremacist groups seriously; they are lunatic fringe hate groups. Sadly, they have First Amendment rights. But luckily, they are small, powerless groups who don’t organize huge protests or cause any real violence or damage (as a group).  Dylann Roof, the young man who killed 9 when he shot up a black church in Charleston, identified as a white supremacist and even wrote a manifesto following the Travon Martin shooting.

But the more insidious racism comes from the left. President Obama accused every white person of being a racist (“whether they know it or not”), of being incapable of subconsciously thinking that black people are inferior. Hillary Clinton said the exact same thing. Michelle Obama spent almost her entire life seeing the world, and especially academia, in terms of black and white. She accused Princeton of being a racist institution yet protested the school demanding that black students be allowed to have their own dormitory (blacks, she said, have their own issues and shared interests that warrant getting their own living arrangements). As soon as Barack Obama took office, he rushed to judgement, publicly, when a Harvard professor, Henry Gates, a black man, was apprehended by a police officer when he was caught breaking into his own home (he lost his key).  Obama characterized the incident as an all-too-commonplace incident when a white officer racial profiles a black man. The truth of the matter is that Gates was observed by a neighbor who only saw his back, concluded it was an attempted home break-in, and notified the police. She never once said the man was black. When police arrived at the scene, Gates became overly hostile and accused the police of harassing him only because he was black and refused to answer the policeman’s questions. It was Gates who was the racist; it was he who created a racist incident where it didn’t deserve to be. The Black Lives Matter movement encourages blacks to kill white members of law enforcement for no other reason than they are white. Al Sharpton led a march in New York City in protest of supposed police brutality against blacks in which the marchers chanted “What Do We Want?  Dead Cops!  When Do We Want Them?  NOW!”)  The mainstream media perpetuated an incorrect narrative regarding the Travon Martin shooting, reporting that Community Watch leader George Zimmerman stalked and shot Travon because he was black and didn’t belong in the neighborhood. The truth is (I studied the tox reports, the autopsy findings, the court filings, and the case itself) that yes, while Zimmerman was keeping an eye on Travon (in his car), it was Travon who ultimately stalked him, attacked him, and beat him almost to the point of death, prompting Zimmerman to shoot his gun. Travon was high on drugs, had a history of aggressive behavior (was expelled from high school on account of it), had likely became paranoid because he saw Zimmerman keeping an eye on him (a side-effect of the drugs), and became aggressive, jumping Zimmerman, and while on top of him, punching him and beating him so hard that his nose was broken and blood was flowing down his throat and into his lungs. Zimmerman thought he was going to die and felt himself beginning to lose consciousness, which finally prompted him to shoot Travon. We all remember Obama condemning Zimmerman and saying “Travon could be my son.”  The dishonest media, throughout the ordeal, continued to show Travon as a sweet-faced young kid rather than the angry, thug-faced teen he had grown into, all in an effort to push the narrative that the shoot was racially-motivated. And how many times have we heard the testimonies of pro athletes who talk about their lives in the inner city and how they were raised to hate and mistrust whites. Even college-age liberals seem to be indoctrinated with the notion that all whites share a history of discriminating and mistreating blacks and that all whites are inherently given preferential treatment in society, in schools, in employment, in business, etc even when they don’t deserve it (“white privilege”). That term alone tells us that racism is becoming more entrenched in our society.

The truth is that more than ever, we find ourselves faced with gentle societal pressure to view people in terms of skin color and race, even when we don’t want to… even when every instinct and every moral, religious, and practical impulse tells us it is wrong. But Rev. Spearman is wrong to suggest, and to dare perpetuate, the message that the racism of the pre-Civil Rights era is the same racism poisoning our society and guiding our legislature here in North Carolina.

I.  HISTORY OF NC VOTER ID —

In all its prior elections, North Carolina voters were not obligated to show any form of identification at all when they showed up to vote, which seems impossible given the many instances of voter irregularity, the numbers that don’t make sense, the highly questionable votes that continue to roll in even after the election, the persistent appearance of impropriety in several of the counties in NC, the many instances of reported voter fraud by poll workers and other eyewitnesses, the instances of actual verified voter fraud uncovered by the NC Voter Integrity Project, the refusal of the state Board of Elections to prosecute the instances of fraud, and the inconsistencies (pointing to a scheme of voter fraud) unearthed by Major Dave Goetze when he analyzed all the numbers of voters versus recorded votes.

The adoption of a photo ID requirement to vote finally brings North Carolina into alignment with the great majority of other states who have voter identification requirements. Thirty-four states already require some sort of identification for voting in person. Of those, 17 states require a photo ID.

A voter ID must be viewed as a common sense requirement because many Western democracies, in fact, require voter ID in some form.

North Carolina recognized the need for a photo ID to vote, to address the claims and the opportunity for voter fraud and to address the general lack of trust and confidence in the integrity of its elections, and had already passed a valid Voter ID law back in 2013 (HB 589, which was the initial bill that originated in the NC House; it was amended in the Senate and then enacted as SL 2013-381). It was actually an omnibus bill which essentially means that it includes many changes, or packages many smaller bills into one larger single bill that could be passed with only one vote in each house. SL2013-381, in fact, including many changes to North Carolina’s voting laws in addition to adding a photo ID requirement. It was to take effect in 2016, in time for the presidential election. But African-American activist groups, like the NC chapter of the NAACP, protested strongly against it and challenged it in court, alleging the law to be a “blatant attempt to disenfranchise voters of color.” The Federal District Court for the Middle District of NC found no discriminatory intent, but on appeal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, the 3-judge panel agreed with the petitioners (challengers) and on July 29, 2016, it struct down NC’s Voter ID law as being an intentional attempt to target black voters in its changes to the states’ voter laws. In other words, the 4th Circuit struck the Voter ID law down as being intentionally discriminatory. The opinion of the 4th Circuit will be addressed later, in a little more detail. [The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/161468.P.pdf ]

The NC state legislature appealed to the US Supreme Court the following May, but the high court refused to grant review. It denied review, not on the merits, and not on the valid issue at hand, but based on a procedural inconsistency. Pat McCrory filed the petition for review but lost his Governor’s seat in 2016 to Roy Cooper, thus making the challenge by the legislature invalid. In the Court’s response to the NC legislature, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “Given the blizzard of filings over who is and who is not authorized to seek review in this Court under North Carolina law, it is important to recall our frequent admonition that ‘the denial of a writ of certiorari imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case.’” Again, in denying to hear the case, the Supreme Court was not ruling on whether the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel was correct or not in its assessment of the North Carolina law.

After the crushing blow by the activist 4th Circuit, the NC legislature was left to figure out another way to deliver to the NC citizens a Photo ID voter law, a law which was top on their list of demands in sending a Republican majority to Raleigh. A constitutional amendment was the solution. It was not a legislature-driven initiative but rather one voted upon by the people themselves. And the people voted to adopt it. It was their will; it was their voice.

The NC NAACP can’t accuse 55% of the voters of North Carolina of being racist, of being motivated by a desire to disenfranchise blacks.

The more likely motivation was that they were concerned over too many irregularities in North Carolina elections (the election returns in Durham county, for example, back in 2016 ) and over too many stories (many true) of illegals voting and people voting by misappropriating the names of dead persons and those who have moved away. A photo ID requirement which proves to the poll official that the person who is voting is who he or she says he/she is is a simple way to address such opportunities to defraud the voting process (“One Citizen, One Vote”). Voter fraud and election fraud were also the reasons the NC General Assembly pursued a Voter ID law back in 2013, pursuant to a clear mandate pressured by the voters in the 2010 election. People were sick of the shenanigans being pulled at the ballot box. Despite what the mainstream media says about voter fraud, which in regard to this issue is absolutely fake news, the people know the truth. In 2010, Republicans finally secured the majority in both houses of the NC General Assembly (giving them the power to draw legislative districts, a critical move which helped them achieve GOP supermajorities in both the House and Senate). The opportunity finally arrived to address the lack of faith in NC elections and to address actual voter fraud and potential opportunities to commit it.

The voters of North Carolina put pressure on their state legislature for a Voter ID bill through the ballot box in 2010 (Republicans ran on a Voter ID bill) and then again on November 6 when they adopted a constitutional amendment requiring North Carolinians to present a photo ID to vote.

The language of the  Photo ID amendment, per House Bill 1092 (H.B. 1092), states: “Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.”

On November 21, Republican leaders in the NC General Assembly drafted a bill that describes what forms of photo ID would be allowed. It is considered a strict form of a photo ID bill; that is, it is restrictive in terms of what forms of ID would be allowed. That initial bill (v. 09) would have required persons to show one of the following forms of photo identification when they show up to vote: A North Carolina driver’s license, a U.S. passport, a military ID and veteran ID, tribal IDs, other forms of photo ID issued by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, a student ID (but only one issued by any of the 17 universities belonging to the UNC university system), and a voter ID card issued by each county’s board of elections office. This week, on Tuesday (Nov. 27), the General Assembly convened for a special two-week lame duck session in order to continue work on the new Voter ID law, as well as to address the other constitutional amendments adopted by voters on election day. Almost immediately, though, a revised draft of the Photo-Voter ID bill was submitted (Senate Bill 824; or S.824 – See below for its content) and as expected, Democrats played their games in an attempt to water-down the bill. From what I am told, the General Assembly will tackle in earnest the legislation to address photo ID next week.

And that is where the amendment stands right now.

The intent of the amendment would suggest that voters want a strict photo ID voter law. Why do I say this?  Considering the intense fight by Democrats and groups representing blacks to oppose and challenge a common-sense Voter ID law (it wasn’t even a strict one) and the intense media opposition campaign by the liberal-controlled media and by the Democrats (with George Soros providing much of the funding) to the Voter ID amendment, it seems obvious that the reason they were (and have been) so intently opposed to any type of voter ID is because they don’t want honest elections. Only a strict photo ID requirement can effectively thwart any of their plans to engage in voter manipulation or fraud.

NC Representatives Michele Presnell (R-Yancey) and John Sauls (R-Lee), both primary sponsors of H.B. 1092, believed the amendment was vital to block election fraud. As Rep. Presnell explained: “Citizens are increasingly concerned about attempts to subvert our elections process and it is incumbent upon government officials to safeguard public perception of our democracy as well as the actual ballots cast.” And Rep. Sauls added: “Confidence in the American democracy is essential to its longevity. Our state must not tolerate anyone’s vote being threatened because lawmakers failed to prevent fraud.”

Which brings us to the special lame-duck session which convened this week. Republicans want a strict form of a Photo ID law and but they face a potential hurdle if they don’t act quickly – Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat and a strong opponent of voter ID laws. In fact, his entire history as Attorney General and we see a little of it also as Governor is that he has little respect for laws that are duly enacted and supported by the majority of the people of the state. He refused to support the Marriage Amendment that was adopted in the state by a ballot initiative (refused to defend it when it was challenged, even though it was his job) and he refused to allow the Supreme Court to review the 4th Circuit’s opinion on the 2013 Voter ID law. If Republicans have any chance of passing a strict Photo ID law, it needs to do so while it still enjoys a supermajority on both houses (that is, it needs to pass it before the new General Assembly is sworn in and the 2019-2020 session begins, which will be in January).

Interested persons should review the recent draft (S.824 – see below) and if they have questions or concerns, they should contact their legislators as quickly as possible.

II.  THE RELEVANT LAW

Let’s go back to the accusations made by race-mongers, Rev. Anthony Spearman and Rev. William Barber, and his racist organization, the NC NAACP.  I call them “race mongers” because they and their organization feed off racial stress and racial division. The organization exists only to perpetuate it and in fact, should racial harmony exist, the organization would die. It would become irrelevant; Rev. Spearman would become irrelevant. Rev. William Barber would be irrelevant. These men and this organization (like many similar ones) offer nothing brand new, nothing good, no solutions, but rather, just emphasize and re-emphasize the dispute between the races and the sins of the past.

Let’s look at their accusations that any form of Voter ID law is an absolute “abridgement” of the voting rights guarantee in the 15th Amendment to black people, that all attempts to enact a Voter ID law in North Carolina amounts to an intentional scheme to disenfranchise blacks of their right to vote, and that white legislators, in general, meet in their caucuses for the precise purpose to scheme against blacks and to seek legislation to discriminate against them and to disenfranchise them of rights and privileges and opportunities.

The first step, of course, is to take note of the relevant law, which I’ve summarized below:

A.  The 15th Amendment:

Section 1:  The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2:  The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

B.  The 14th Amendment:

Section 1:  All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

C.  Voting Rights Act of 1965 (relevant sections)

Section 4: (a) To assure that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is not denied or abridged on account of race or color, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under subsection (b) or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action for a declaratory judgment brought by such State or subdivision against the United States has determined that no such test or device has been used during the five years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color: Provided, That no such declaratory judgment shall issue with respect to any plaintiff for a period of five years after the entry of a final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of a declaratory judgment under this section, whether entered prior to or after the enactment of this Act, determining that denials or abridgments of the right to vote on account of race or color through the use of such tests or devices have occurred anywhere in the territory of such plaintiff. An action pursuant to this subsection shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 of the United States Code and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court. The court shall retain jurisdiction of any action pursuant to this subsection for five years after judgment and shall reopen the action upon motion of the Attorney General alleging that a test or device has been used for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.

If the Attorney General determines that he has no reason to believe that any such test or device has been used during the five years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, he shall consent to the entry of such judgment

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall apply in any State or in any political subdivision of a state which (1) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1964, any test or device, and with respect to which (2) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 percentum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percentum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1964.

A determination or certification of the Attorney General or of the Director of the Census under this section or under section 6 or section 13 shall not be reviewable in any court and shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

(c) The phrase “test or device” shall mean any requirement that a person as a prerequisite for voting or registration for voting (1) demonstrate the ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter, (2) demonstrate any educational achievement or his knowledge of any particular subject, (3) possess good moral character, or (4) prove his qualifications by the voucher of registered voters or members of any other class.

(d) For purposes of this section no State or political subdivision shall be determined to have engaged in the use of tests or devices for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color if (1) incidents of such use have been few in number and have been promptly and effectively corrected by State or local action, (2) the continuing effect of such incidents has been eliminated, and (3) there is no reasonable probability of their recurrence in the future.

Section 5:  Whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 4(a) are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1964, such State or subdivision may institute an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, and unless and until the court enters such judgment no person shall be denied the right to vote for failure to comply with such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure: Provided, That such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure may be enforced without such proceeding if the qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure has been submitted by the chief legal officer or other appropriate official of such State or subdivision to the Attorney General and the Attorney General has not interposed an objection within sixty days after such submission, except that neither the Attorney General’s failure to object nor a declaratory judgment entered under this section shall bar a subsequent action to enjoin enforcement of such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure. Any action under this section shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 of the United States Code and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court.

Source:  https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=100&page=transcript

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has no bearing on NC Voter ID laws since June 2013, when, in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down the operative section that used to require the federal government to review changes to any state’s voting laws, provided that state had a history of discrimination against African-Americans.

Section 5 is known as the Pre-Clearance Section, which provides that any state or political subdivision thereof meeting the criteria set forth in Sections 4(a)-(b), must have any changes to its voting laws reviewed by a federal court to make sure that such changes do not discriminate outright on account of race or have the effect of doing so. Section 5 was not invalidated, but Section 4 was. Section 4 is the section which establishes the “Pre-Clearance Formula” to determine which state or subdivision thereof comes under the jurisdiction of Section 5. In other words, Section 4 contained the legislative formula to determine which jurisdictions must get “preclearance” from the federal government to change their voting laws—a procedure mandated by Section 5 of the Act. Without Section 4, Section 5 has no effect, since no states or jurisdictions are subject to the preclearance mandate. (The formula hadn’t been updated by Congress since 1975 and so a majority of the Court struck down Section 4 because the formula was far too outdated to pass constitutional muster.)

Note, however, that the Court in Shelby decided to exempt Section 5 from scrutiny, thereby leaving an opening for Congress to enact a new formula that “identifies those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of the current conditions.”

I should go into the Shelby decision a little further since the 2016 4th Circuit opinion striking down the 2013 NC Voter ID law touches on it and also because Rev. Spearman is under the impression that the 15th Amendment and Voting Rights Act go hand-in-hand as perpetual law. He believes that the constraints imposed by the Voting Rights Act extend, and should rightly so, into perpetuity. He is under the impression that there is a continual struggle between whites and blacks and that whites will always find ways to disenfranchise blacks to minimize their standing in society. But that just isn’t so.

The following is taken right from the Opinion:  (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/12-96 )

FACTS & HISTORY:  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted to address entrenched racial discrimination in voting, “an insidious and pervasive evil which had been perpetuated in certain parts of our country through unremitting and ingenious defiance of the Constitution.” South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966).  Section 2 of the Act, which bans any “standard, practice, or procedure” that “results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen . . . to vote on account of race or color,” 42 U. S. C. §1973(a), applies nationwide, is permanent, and is not at issue in this case. Other sections apply only to some parts of the country. Section 4 of the Act provides the “coverage formula,” defining the “covered jurisdictions” as States or political subdivisions that maintained tests or devices as prerequisites to voting, and had low voter registration or turnout, in the 1960s and early 1970s. §1973b(b). In those covered jurisdictions, §5 of the Act provides that no change in voting procedures can take effect until approved by specified federal authorities in Washington, D. C. §1973c(a). Such approval is known as “preclearance.”

The coverage formula and preclearance requirement were initially set to expire after five years, but the Act has been reauthorized several times. In 2006, the Act was reauthorized for an additional 25 years, but the coverage formula was not changed. Coverage still turned on whether a jurisdiction had a voting test in the 1960s or 1970s, and had low voter registration or turnout at that time. Shortly after the 2006 reauthorization, a Texas utility district sought to bail out from the Act’s coverage and, in the alternative, challenged the Act’s constitutionality. This Court resolved the challenge on statutory grounds, but expressed serious doubts about the Act’s continued constitutionality. See Northwest Austin Municipal Util. Dist. No. One v. Holder (2009).

Petitioner Shelby County, in the covered jurisdiction of Alabama, sued the Attorney General in Federal District Court in Washington, D. C., seeking a declaratory judgment that sections 4(b) and 5 are facially unconstitutional, as well as a permanent injunction against their enforcement. The District Court upheld the Act, finding that the evidence before Congress in 2006 was sufficient to justify reauthorizing §5 and continuing §4(b)’s coverage formula. The D. C. Circuit affirmed. After surveying the evidence in the record, that court accepted Congress’s conclusion that §2 litigation remained inadequate in the covered jurisdictions to protect the rights of minority voters, that §5 was therefore still necessary, and that the coverage formula continued to pass constitutional muster.

OPINION & REASONING:  The majority opinion was delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.  The Court held that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, that its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting states and political subdivisions to preclearance. The majority concluded that Section 4(b) exceeded Congress’s power to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments, reasoning that the coverage formula conflicts with the constitutional principles of federalism and “equal sovereignty of the states” because the disparate treatment of the states is “based on 40 year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day” and thus is not responsive to current needs. The Court expressed that Congress cannot subject a state to preclearance based simply on past discrimination. The opinion reads:

In Northwest Austin, this Court noted that the Voting Rights Act “imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs” and concluded that “a departure from the fundamental principle of equal sovereignty requires a showing that a statute’s disparate geographic coverage is sufficiently related to the problem that it targets.” It is this basic principle of sovereignty and also this principle of “burden v. necessity” that guide the Court in addressing the issue presented – in reviewing the constitutionality of Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

(1)  State legislation may not contravene federal law. States retain broad autonomy, however, in structuring their governments and pursuing legislative objectives. Indeed, the Tenth Amendment reserves to the States all powers not specifically granted to the Federal Government, including “the power to regulate elections.” Gregory v. Ashcroft (1991). There is also a “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty” among the States, which is highly pertinent in assessing disparate treatment of States. See Northwest Austin. The Voting Rights Act sharply departs from these basic principles. It requires States to beseech the Federal Government for permission to implement laws that they would otherwise have the right to enact and execute on their own. And despite the tradition of equal sovereignty, the Act applies to only nine States (and additional counties). That is why, in 1966 (in Katzenbach), this Court described the Act as “stringent” and “potent.” The Court nonetheless upheld the Act, concluding that such an “uncommon exercise of congressional power” could be justified by “exceptional conditions.”

(2)  In 1966, these departures were justified by the “blight of racial discrimination in voting” that had “infected the electoral process in parts of our country for nearly a century” [Katzenbach]. At the time, the coverage formula – the means of linking the exercise of the unprecedented authority with the problem that warranted it – made sense. The Act was limited to areas where Congress found “evidence of actual voting discrimination,” and the covered jurisdictions shared two characteristics: “the use of tests and devices for voter registration, and a voting rate in the 1964 presidential election at least 12 points below the national average.” The Court explained that “tests and devices are relevant to voting discrimination because of their long history as a tool for perpetrating the evil; a low voting rate is pertinent for the obvious reason that widespread disenfranchisement must inevitably affect the number of actual voters.” [Ibid]  The Court therefore concluded that “the coverage formula was rational in both practice and theory.” [Ibid]

(3)  Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically. While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions. Largely because of the Voting Rights Act, “voter turnout and registration rates” in covered jurisdictions “now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”  See Northwest Austin. The tests and devices that blocked ballot access have been forbidden nationwide for over 40 years. Yet the Act has not eased §5’s restrictions or narrowed the scope of §4’s coverage formula along the way. Instead those extraordinary and unprecedented features have been reauthorized as if nothing has changed, and they have grown even stronger. Because §5 applies only to those jurisdictions singled out by §4, the Court turns to consider that provision.

Later in the opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote:

A statute’s “current burdens” must be justified by “current needs,” and any “disparate geographic coverage” must be “sufficiently related to the problem that it targets.” The coverage formula met that test in 1965, but no longer does so.

Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices. The formula captures States by reference to literacy tests and low voter registration and turnout in the 1960s and early 1970s. But such tests have been banned nationwide for over 40 years. And voter registration and turnout numbers in the covered States have risen dramatically in the years since. Racial disparity in those numbers was compelling evidence justifying the preclearance remedy and the coverage formula. There is no longer such a disparity…..  The nation is no longer divided along racial lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were.

…..  the Fifteenth Amendment commands that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of race or color, and it gives Congress the power to enforce that command. The Amendment is not designed to punish for the past; its purpose is to ensure a better future.

In light of the outdated formula, in light of the fact that at one time (1966), the formula was “rational in both practice and theory” (preclearance was a “tailored remedy” under the circumstances) but that times have dramatically changed, and in light of the undue burden it placed on certain states in violation of the Tenth Amendment, the Supreme Court concluded that Section 4’s formula is unconstitutional in light of current conditions.

Taking to heart the opinion’s explanation that times have “changed dramatically,” ask yourself a question: Referring to the black women I wrote about much earlier, who had attempted to vote at least three times on a single day in North Carolina, with the poll officials purposely not saying anything about it or turning her in – Does anyone think that such a thing could have ever happened in pre-Civil Rights era America? Does anyone even think such a thing could have happened in 1965?  Absolutely not. That instance shows just how much times have changed and how far behind us we’ve put racial discrimination at the ballot box.

Again, note that Justice Roberts opted to strike down only the formula in Section 4 that determined which jurisdictions would be subject to the preclearance requirements. The Court declined to address the constitutionality of Section 5 (invoking the doctrine of “constitutional avoidance,” which says that a federal court should refuse to rule on a constitutional issue if the case can be resolved on a non-constitutional basis), although it also was challenged by Shelby County, Alabama, thus leaving it in place for Congress, should it ever wish to enact an updated “formula.”  (Giving Congress the chance to address or update Section 5 was the “chance to resolve the issue on a non-constitutional basis”).

As Justice Antonin Scalia said during oral arguments: “Congress reauthorized Section 5 (in 2006) not because the legislation was necessary, but because it constituted a ‘racial entitlement’ that Congress was unlikely to end.”

The important thing to know is that as it stands now, Section 5 has been rendered useless by the decision in Shelby because the provision that gives it force (Section 4) has been struck down as unconstitutional. And because Section 5 is rendered useless, the Voting Rights Act no longer demands and requires federal court review and approval of any changes to North Carolina’s voting laws. (Same for any other southern state previously identified by the law’s “preclearance” provision)

D.  Latest Draft of a NC Photo-Voter ID bill (S.824):

PART I:  IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT REQUIRING PHOTOGRAPHIC IDENTIFICATION TO VOTE

SECTION 1.1(a)  Article 17 of Chapter 163A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

“§ 163A-869.1.  Voter Photo Identification Cards.

(a) The county board of elections shall, in accordance with this section, issue without charge voter photo identification cards upon request to registered voters. The voter photo identification cards shall contain a photograph of the voter and the registration number for that voter. The voter photo identification card shall be used for voting purposes only, and shall expire ten years from the date of issuance.

(b) The State Board shall make available to county board of elections the equipment necessary to print voter photo identification cards. The county board of elections shall operate and maintain the equipment necessary to print voter photo identification cards.

(c)  County boards of elections shall maintain a secure database containing the photographs of registered voters taken for the purpose of issuing voter photo identification cards.

(d)  The State Board shall adopt rules to ensure at a minimum, but not limited to, the following:

(1) A registered voter seeking to obtain a voter photo identification card shall provide the voter’s date of birth and the last four digits of the voter’s social security number.

(2) Voter photo identification cards shall be issued at any time, except during the time period between the end of the voter registration deadline for a primary or election as provided in G.S. 163A-865 and election day for each primary and election.

(3) If the registered voter loses or defaces the voter’s photo identification card, the voter may obtain a duplicate card without charge from his or her county board of registration upon request in person, or by telephone, or mail.

(e) Ninety days prior to expiration, the county board of elections shall notify any voter issued a voter photographic identification card under this section of the impending expiration of the voter photographic identification card.”

SECTION 1.2(a)  Article 20 of Chapter 163A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

“§ 163A-1145.1.  Requirement for Photo Identification to Vote in Person.

(a).  Photo Identification Required to Vote. – When a voter presents to vote in person, the voter shall produce any of the following forms of identification that contain a photograph of the voter:

(1)  Any of the following that is valid and unexpired, or has been expired for one year or less::

  1. A North Carolina drivers license.
  2. A special identification card for nonoperators issued under G.S. 20-37.7 or other form of non-temporary identification issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles of the Department of Transportation.
  3. A United States passport.
  4. A North Carolina voter photo identification card of the voter issued pursuant to G.S. 163A-869.1.
  5. A valid and current tribal enrollment card issued by a federally recognized tribe.
  6. A valid and current tribal enrollment card issued by a tribe recognized by this State under Chapter 71A of the General Statutes, provided that card meets all of the following criteria:

(i). Is issued in accordance with a process approved by the State Board that requires an application and proof of identity equivalent to the requirements for issuance of a special identification card by the Division of Motor Vehicles of the Department of Transportation.

(ii). Is signed by an elected official of the tribe.

  1. A student identification card issued by a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina, a community college, as defined in G.S. 115D-2(2), or eligible private postsecondary institution as defined in G.S. 116-280(3), provided that card is issued in accordance with G.S. 163A-1145.2.
  2. An employee identification card issued by a state or local government entity, including a charter school, provided that card is issued in accordance with G.S. 163A-1145.3.
  3. A drivers license or special identification card for nonoperators issued by another state, the District of Columbia, or a territory or commonwealth of the United States, but only if the voter’s voter registration was within 90 days of the election.

(2)  Any of the following, regardless of whether the identification contains a printed expiration or issuance date:

  1. A military identification card issued by the United States government.
  2. A Veterans Identification Card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for use at Veterans Administration medical facilities.

(3)  Any expired form of identification allowed in this subsection presented by a voter having attained the age of 65 years at the time of presentation at the voting place, provided that the identification was unexpired on the voter’s sixty-fifth birthday.

(b). Verification of Photo Identification. – After presentation of the required identification described in subsection (a) of this section, the precinct officials assigned to check registration shall compare the photograph contained on the required identification with the person presenting to vote. The precinct official shall verify that the photograph is that of the person seeking to vote. If the precinct official disputes that the photograph contained on the required identification is the person presenting to vote, a challenge shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures of G.S. 163A-914.

(c)  Provisional Ballot Required Without Photo Identification. – If the registered voter cannot produce the identification as required in subsection (a) of this section, the voter may cast a provisional ballot that is counted only if the voter brings a valid and current photo identification to the county board of elections no later than the end of business on the business day prior to the canvass by the county board of elections as provided in G.S. 163A-1172.

(d)  Exceptions. – The following exceptions are provided for a voter who does not produce a valid and current photograph identification as required above:

(1) Religious Objection. – If a voter does not produce a valid and current photograph identification due to a religious objection to being photographed, the voter may complete an affidavit under penalty of perjury at the voting place and affirm that the voter: (i) is the same individual who personally appears at the voting place; (ii) will cast the provisional ballot while voting in person; and (iii) has a religious objection to being photographed. Upon completion of the affidavit, the voter may cast a provisional ballot.

(2) Reasonable Impediment. – If a voter does not produce a valid and current photograph identification because the voter suffers from a reasonable impediment that prevents the voter from obtaining photograph identification,

the voter may complete an affidavit under the penalty of perjury at the voting place and affirm that the voter: (i) is the same individual who personally appears at the voting place; (ii) will cast the provisional ballot while voting in person; and (iii) suffers from a reasonable impediment that prevents the voter from presenting photograph identification. The voter also shall complete a reasonable impediment declaration form provided in subsection (d1) of this section, unless otherwise prohibited by state or federal law. Upon completion of the affidavit, the voter may cast a provisional ballot.

(3) Natural Disaster. – If a voter does not produce an acceptable form of photograph identification due to being a victim of a natural disaster occurring within 100 days before election day that resulted in a disaster declaration by the President of the United States and the Governor of this State, the voter may complete an affidavit under penalty of perjury at the voting place and affirm that the voter: (i) is the same individual who personally appears at the voting place; (ii) will cast the provisional ballot while voting in person; and (iii) was a victim of a natural disaster occurring within 100 days before election day that resulted in a disaster declaration by the President of the United States and the Governor of this State. Upon completion of the affidavit, the voter may cast a provisional ballot.

(d1) Reasonable Impediment Declaration Form. – The State Board shall adopt a Reasonable Impediment Declaration form that, at a minimum, includes the following as separate boxes that a voter may check to identify the voter’s reasonable impediment:

(1)  Inability to obtain photo identification due to:

  1. Lack of transportation.
  2. Disability or illness.
  3. Lack of birth certificate or other underlying documents required.
  4. Work schedule.
  5. Family responsibilities.

(2)  Lost or stolen photo identification

(3)  Photo identification applied for but not yet received by the voter voting in person.

(4)  Other reasonable impediment. If the voter checks the “other reasonable impediment” box, a further brief written identification of the reasonable impediment shall be required, including the option to indicate that State or federal law prohibits listing the impediment.

(e)  County Board Review of Exceptions. – If the county board of elections determines that the voter voted a provisional ballot only due to the inability to provide proof of identification and the required affidavit required in subsection (d) of this section is submitted, the county board of elections shall find that the provisional ballot is valid unless the county board has grounds to believe the affidavit is false.

(f)  Purpose. The purpose of the identification required is to confirm the person presenting to vote is the voter on the voter registration records. Any address listed on the identification is not determinative of a voter’s residence for the purpose of voting. A voter’s residence for the purpose of voting is determined pursuant to G.S. 163A-842.

SECTION 1.2(b)  Article 20 of Chapter 163A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

“§ 163A-1145.2.  Approval of Student Identification Cards for Voting Identification.

(a) The State Board shall approve the use of student identification cards issued by a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, a community college, as defined in G.S. 115D-2(2), or eligible private postsecondary institution as defined in G.S. 116-280(3) for voting identification under G.S. 163A-1145.1 if the following criteria are met:

(1) The chancellor, president, or registrar of the university or college submits a signed letter to the Executive Director of the State Board under penalty of perjury that the following are true:

  1. The identification cards that are issued by the university or college contain photographs of students taken by the university or college or its agents or contractors.
  2. The identification cards are issued after an enrollment process that includes methods of confirming the identity of the student that include, but are not limited to, the social security number, citizenship status, and birthdate of the student.
  3. The equipment for producing the identification cards is kept in a secure location.
  4. Misuse of the equipment for producing the identification cards would be grounds for student discipline or termination of an employee.
  5. University or college officials would report any misuse of student identification card equipment to law enforcement if G.S. 163A-1389(19) was potentially violated.
  6. The cards issued by the university or college contain a date of expiration, effective January 1, 2021.
  7. The university or college provides copies of standard identification cards to the State Board to assist with training purposes.

(2) The university or college complies with any other reasonable security measures determined by the State Board to be necessary for the protection and security of the student identification process.

(b) The State Board shall approve the use of student identification cards issued by a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, a community college, as defined in G.S. 115D-2(2), or eligible private postsecondary institution as defined in G.S. 116-280(3) every four years.

(c) The State Board shall produce a list of participating universities and colleges every four years. The list shall be published on the State Board’s Web site and distributed to every county board of elections.”

SECTION 1.2(c)  Article 20 of Chapter 163A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

“§ 163A-1145.3.  Approval of Employee Identification Cards for Voting Identification.

(a) The State Board shall approve the use of employee identification card issued by a state or local government entity, including a charter school, for voting identification under G.S. 163A-1145.1 if the following criteria are met:

(1) The head elected official or lead human resources employee of the state or local government entity or charter school submits a signed letter to the Executive Director of the State Board under penalty of perjury that the following are true:

  1. The identification cards that are issued by the state or local government entity contain photographs of the employees taken by the employing entity or its agents or contractors.
  2. The identification cards are issued after an employment application process that includes methods of confirming the identity of the employee that include, but are not limited to, the social security number, citizenship status, and birthdate of the employee.
  3. The equipment for producing the identification cards is kept in a secure location.
  4. Misuse of the equipment for producing the identification cards would be grounds for termination of an employee.
  5. State or local officials would report any misuse of identification card equipment to law enforcement if G.S. 163A-1389(19) was potentially violated.
  6. The cards issued by the state or local government entity contain a date of expiration, effective January 1, 2021.
  7. The state or local government entity provides copies of standard identification cards to the State Board to assist with training purposes.

(2) The state or local government entity complies with any other reasonable security measures determined by the State Board to be necessary for the protection and security of the employee identification process.

(b) The State Board shall approve the use of employee identification cards issued by a state or local government entity, including a charter school, every four years.

(c) The State Board shall produce a list of participating employing entities every four years. The list shall be published on the State Board’s Web site and distributed to every county board of elections.

SECTION 1.2(d)  Notwithstanding G.S. 163A-1145.1, 163A-1145.2, and 163A-1145.3, the State Board shall approve (i) tribal enrollment cards issued by a tribe recognized by this State under Chapter 71A of the General Statutes; (ii) student identification cards issued by a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, a community college, as defined in G.S. 115D-2(2), or eligible private postsecondary institution as defined in G.S. 116-280(3); and (iii) employee identification cards issued by a state or local government entity, including a charter school, for use as voting identification under G.S. 163A-1145.1 no later than March 15, 2019, for use in primaries and elections held in 2019 and 2020, and again no later than May 15, 2021, for elections held on or after that date. The State Board shall adopt temporary rules on reasonable security measures for use of student or employee identification cards for voting identification in G.S. 163A-1145.2 and G.S. 163A-1145.3 no later than February 1, 2019. The State Board shall adopt permanent rules on reasonable security measures for use of student or employee identification cards for voting identification in G.S. 163A-1145.2 and G.S. 163A-1145.3 no later than May 15, 2021. The State Board shall produce the initial list of participating institutions and employing entities no later than April 1, 2019.

SECTION 1.2(e)  Notwithstanding G.S. 163A-1145.1, 163A-1145.2, and 163A-1145.3, a student identification card issued by a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, a community college, as defined in G.S. 115D-2(2), or eligible private postsecondary institution as defined in G.S. 116-280(3) or an employee identification card issued by state or local government entity that does not contain an expiration date shall be eligible for use in any election held before January 1, 2021. 9

SECTION 1.2(f)  Notwithstanding G.S. 163A-1145.1(d)(2), for elections held in 2019, any voter who does not present a photograph identification listed as acceptable in G.S. 163A-1145.1(a) when presenting to vote in person shall be allowed to complete a reasonable impediment affidavit and cast a provisional ballot, listing as the impediment not being aware of the requirement to present photograph identification when voting in person or failing to bring photograph identification to the voting place.

***  Language and sections highlighted in bold are the revisions to the original draft proposed by lawmakers just prior to the start of the special lame-duck session of the NC General Assembly.

[Source:  The draft bill (S.824) –  https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/PDF/S824v2.pdf

The changes made to the original draft Voter ID bill (v. 09) which gave rise to S.824 are listed in more plain terms below:

(a) SECTION 1.1(a) adds a new section to § 163A-869: Voter Photo Identification Cards – requiring county boards of election to maintain a secure database containing the photographs of registered voters taken for the purpose of issuing voter photo identification cards.

(b) SECTION 1.2(a) broadens the section in § 163A-1145.1: Requirement for Photo Identification to Vote in Person which lists Student ID cards as an acceptable form of photo identification. In the prior version of the bill, the only acceptable student ID cards were those issued by any of the 17 schools belonging to the UNC University system.

(c) SECTION 1.1(b) adds a new section to § 163A-869: Voter Photo Identification Cards – adding Employment Identification cards as an acceptable form of photo identification.

(d) SECTION 1.1(b) adds additional language to the section (“Exceptions – Reasonable Impediment”) in § 163A-869: Voter Photo Identification Cards. It further includes Section (dl) which requires that a voter claiming a Reasonable Impediment to fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration Form.

(e) SECTION 1.1(b) adds a new subsection to § 163A-869: Voter Photo Identification Cards – to section “Exceptions.” The new exception is “Natural Disaster.”

(f) All the sections after that – Sections 1.2 (c) – 1.2 (f) – are newly-added; that is, they are new to S.824.

E.  The Opinion of the Supreme Court, Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections (2008) – upholding the constitutionality of a strict photo ID type voter ID law

In 2005, Indiana passed a strict Voter ID law.  It was the most restrictive voter law at the time. The Indiana statute required citizens voting in person on election day, or casting a ballot in person at the office of the circuit court clerk prior to election day, to present photo identification issued by the government.

Under the law, voters MUST have a specific form of ID in order to vote. The ID must be issued by the state of Indiana or the U.S. government and must show the following:

  • Name of individual to whom it was issued, which must conform to the individual’s registration record
  • Photo of the person to whom it was issued
  • Expiration date (if it is expired, it must have an expiration date after the most recent general election; military IDs are exempted from the requirement that ID bear an expiration date)

Voters in Indiana who are unable to or decline to produce such an identification may vote a provisional ballot. The ballot is counted only if: (1) the voter returns to the election board by noon on the Monday after the election and: (A) produces proof of identification; or (B) executes an affidavit stating that the voter cannot obtain proof of identification, because the voter: (i) is indigent; or (ii) has a religious objection to being photographed; and (2) the voter has not been challenged or required to vote a provisional ballot for any other reason.  [Indiana statute §3-5-2-40.5, 3-10-1-7.2 and 3-11-8-25.1]

The strict photo identification requirement was challenged as being an unreasonable burden on the right to vote and that challenge made its way to the Supreme Court in 2008.  [Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, (2008)].  Civil rights groups (including ACORN), the Women’s League of Voters, and other groups filed amici briefs challenging the constitutionality of the ID requirement.  After concluding that no voter would conceivably be precluded from voting under the law, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the photo ID requirement, finding it closely related to Indiana’s legitimate state interest in preventing voter fraud, modernizing elections, and safeguarding voter confidence.

Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion, stated that the burdens placed on voters are limited to a small percentage of the population and were offset by the state’s interest in reducing fraud. He opined: “Because Indiana’s cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons—e.g., elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate—is mitigated by the fact that eligible voters without photo identification may cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk’s office. Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek.”

He concluded:

      “In sum, on the basis of the record that has been made in this litigation, we cannot conclude that the statute imposes “excessively burdensome requirements” on any class of voters. A facial challenge must fail where the statute has a ‘plainly legitimate sweep.’ When we consider only the statute’s broad application to all Indiana voters we conclude that it imposes only a limited burden on voters’ rights. The precise interests advanced by the State are therefore sufficient to defeat petitioners’ facial challenge.

      Finally we note that petitioners have not demonstrated that the proper remedy – even assuming an unjustified burden on some voters – would be to invalidate the entire statute. When evaluating a neutral, nondiscriminatory regulation of voting procedure, we must keep in mind that a ruling of unconstitutionality frustrates the intent of the elected representatives of the people.”

Justice Scalia wrote separately in a concurring opinion: “The law should be upheld because the overall burden is minimal and justified.”  He went on to state that the Supreme Court should defer to state and local legislators and that the Supreme Court should not get involved in local election law cases, which would do nothing but encourage more litigation. “It is for state legislatures to weigh the costs and benefits of possible changes to their election codes, and their judgment must prevail unless it imposes a severe and unjustified overall burden upon the right to vote, or is intended to disadvantage a particular class,” he wrote.

Finally, he concluded: “The universally applicable requirements of Indiana’s voter-identification law are eminently reasonable. The burden of acquiring, possessing, and showing a free photo identification is simply not severe, because it does not “even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.”  And the State’s interests are sufficient to sustain that minimal burden. That should end the matter.”

In addition to the challenge that the strict ID requirement was an unreasonable burden on the right to vote, civil rights groups alleged that the requirement benefitted Republicans and harmed Democrats at the ballot box (because Democrats include more poor people and minorities).  Justice Stevens, joined by Justices Scalia and Kennedy, disregarded that argument and wrote: “The justifications for the law should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators.”

What exactly does the Indiana Voter ID law require of each voter when he or she shows up to vote?  This is important because according to the Supreme Court, the ID requirement is NOT an unreasonable limitation on the right to vote.  The Supreme Court did not say it was not an unreasonable limitation on the right to vote for a WHITE person.  The Court held that the limitation was not an unreasonable limitation on any person’s right to vote.

F.  The Opinion of the 4th Circuit, North Carolina NAACP v. Pat McCrory (2016) – striking down the 2013 NC Voter ID Law

Reverend Spearman points to the opinion of the leftist 4th Circuit as proof that North Carolina’s 2013 Voter ID law was intentionally racist and racially-motivated, that the NC General Assembly is a racist government body, and that any law enacted in North Carolina to regulate voting (particularly to address potential fraud and integrity concerns) is nothing more than an intentional scheme to continue the historical repression of black votes. He points to the language of the opinion, which just happens to sing his favorite tune. The language also happens to be horribly offensive and I submit, legally dishonest.

But first let’s look at the judicial history:  The day the NC Voter ID law was passed (SL 2013-381).

On August 12, 2013, the NC General Assembly, with the signature of Governor Pat McCrory, enacted the first NC Voter ID law [Carolina Session Law 2013-381, or “SL 2013-381”], which made a number of changes to North Carolina’s voting laws.  All the changes were to take effect immediately except for the voter photo ID requirement, which would not be effective until January 1, 2016.  That same day, the NC NAACP joined several groups in suing to overturn several provisions – provisions they alleged as being racially motivated: the photo-ID requirement, elimination of same-day registration (“SDR”), elimination of the first week of early voting (shortening the total early voting period from seventeen to ten days), elimination of one of the two “souls-to-the-polls” Sunday voting days (which allow churches to provide transportation to voters), prohibition on counting out-of-precinct (“OOP”) provisional ballots, elimination of mandatory pre-registration of sixteen-year-olds (when they attend mandatory high school driver’s education or go to the DMV to obtain a drivers license), and expansion of poll observers and ballot challenges.

Trial was set for July 13, 2015.  On June 18, 2015, the NC General Assembly passed House Bill 836, and on June 22, 2015, the Governor signed it into law as North Carolina Session Law 2015-103 (“SL 2015-103”). The law relaxed the photo-ID requirement created by SL 2013-381 by providing an additional exception that permits individuals to vote without a photo ID so long as they sign a “reasonable impediment” affidavit. Beginning July 13, 2015, the district court held a trial on the merits of all claims except those challenging the merits of the photo-ID provision, but then the NC NAACP and other plaintiffs sought to also ask the court for an injunction preventing the implementation of the “watered-down” photo ID requirement (as amended, or “watered down” by the “reasonable impediment” provision). In all, the NC NAACP sought a preliminary injunction against the challenged changes to existing voting laws and a preliminary injunction only as to the “soft roll-out” of the photo ID requirement.”  The district court denied the injunctions, concluding that the plaintiffs did not make a strong enough showing that they would succeed on the merits of their case. The court held that the NC General Assembly did not act with discriminatory intent in enacting its Voter ID omnibus bill and deferred to its wisdom and intent in drafting and passing the law.

The case was then appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the opinion of the District Court. The opinion was written by Judge Motz.

The 4th Circuit 3-judge panel noted that all of the voting tools restricted or eliminated by the bill were ones that African-Americans disproportionately used. Furthermore, according to the court, the photo ID requirement imposed a hardship on African-American as they disproportionately lacked them.  [Note again that the legislature had amended the bill, in 2015 (version SL 2013-103) before its trial date to include other forms of identification that African-Americans would likely possess, as well as to include a provision providing that if a person could not produce a photo ID, a one free of charge would be provided by the county, but the 4th Circuit ignored that]. Essentially, the 4th Circuit concluded that the NC state legislature acted with discriminatory intent in enacting the 2013 Voter ID bill because it restricted voting mechanisms and procedures that most heavily affect blacks.

The opinion began:

“During the period in which North Carolina jurisdictions were covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (preclearance of any voting laws with the US Justice Department), African-American electoral participation dramatically improved.  In particular, between 2000 and 2012, when the law provided for the voting mechanisms at issue here (ie, early voting, Sunday voting, same-day voting, provisional voting) and did not require photo ID, African-American voter registration swelled by 51.1% – as compared to an increase of only 15.8% for white voters.  African-American turnout similarly surged, from 41.9% in 2000 to 71.5% in 2008 and 68.5% in 2012.”

[The 4th Circuit incorrectly credited North Carolina’s very relaxed voting laws with the African-American voter turn-out when the truth is that the turn out was exceptionally high, in relation to white voter turn-out,] because for the first time in our country’s history, an African-American was running for president. The African-American community couldn’t be more energized!]

The opinion continued:

“After years of preclearance and expansion of voting access, by 2013 African-American registration and turnout rates had finally reached near-parity with white registration and turnout rates. African-Americans were poised to act as a major electoral force.”

The judges concluded that the sole purpose of the Voter ID law was to prevent that from happening.

In late June 2013, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, a case that held enormous implications for North Carolina.  In it, the Court invalidated Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which provided the preclearance coverage formula to be used by the federal government when assessing a change to a state voting law under Section 5.  The government reviews changes to state voting laws under the Voting Rights Act one of two ways: either in an administrative review by the Attorney General, or in court, in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court in Shelby found that Section 4 was unconstitutional as an undue burden on the States’ inherent sovereign powers under the Tenth Amendment because it continued to rely on greatly outdated data which had no place in our current times. finding it based on outdated data. [The Shelby v. Holder case was addressed in detail earlier). Consequently, as of that date (late June 2013), North Carolina no longer needed to preclear changes to its election laws. It was no longer under the historic presumption that any changes to election laws would be an intentional scheme to  disenfranchise African-American voters. North Carolina was free from the taint of its discriminatory past.

Up until that decision, the NC legislature had been working on a Voter ID bill. Voters were getting very impatient, but the legislators assured their constituents that a good, legally-sound bill would take time; it needed to be reviewed and re-reviewed by lawyers in order to make sure it would be “challenge-proof. When the Shelby decision came out, the legislature decided to enlarge the Voter ID bill into an omnibus bill, seeking several changes to what was without a doubt, an extensive early voting period. That bill would become Session Law (“SL”) 2013-381, which we all knew as the 2013 NC Voter ID bill.

Noting that the Shelby opinion came out just as blacks had become energized to vote and as the NC legislature was putting its Voter ID in final form, the 4th Circuit concluded that is when the so-called “racist” republicans (the court’s view) hatched their diabolical discriminatory scheme to disenfranchise black voters.

The opinion read:

“But, on the day after the Supreme Court issued Shelby County v. Holder, eliminating preclearance obligations, a leader of the party that newly dominated the legislature (and the party that rarely enjoyed African American support) announced an intention to enact what he characterized as an “omnibus” election law.  Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices used in North Carolina.  Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.”

The court continued: “In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the State offered only meager justifications.”  I bring this particular statement up because of several reasons:

(1)  The justifications were sufficient for the district court. As a court is supposed to do, it defers judgement and wisdom to the legislative branch when reviewing a law, being careful not to substitute its judgement.

(2)  The court mocked the “justifications” offered by the NC legislature, namely voter fraud and potential for voter fraud, claiming the law was passed to “impose cures for problems that did not exist.”

(3)  Evidence of voter fraud was not allowed at the trial court (the District Court). I asked Jay Delancy of the Voter Integrity Project, the most reputable group addressing NC voter fraud, the group which has investigated and uncovered verified cases of actual voter fraud, voter fraud schemes, evidence of possible organized criminality in voter and election fraud, and serious potential opportunities for fraud, if he had been asked to give testimony, he told me that he was not allowed to.  It is important to note that the Circuit Courts are appeals courts and so it does not hear any testimony. It just reviews the record sent up from the District Court. If the District Court has no evidence (or allowed no evidence) of voter or election fraud, then the Circuit Court cannot assess the credibility of the issue and hence its justification for the Voter ID omnibus bill.

(4)  Consequently, the court lacks the foundation and knowledge to state that “the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation…..  which is intentional discrimination.”

“The new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision….  And this bears the mark of intentional discrimination,” wrote the court.

In reaching its conclusion that the NC General Assembly “enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” the 4th Circuit pointed to what it called a “smoking gun.” As mentioned earlier, prior to the enactment of SL 2013-381, the legislature requested and received data as to the racial breakdown of usage of each of the early voting tools and practices that it was seeking to amend. The data was requested and collected in order to help enlighten and guide the General Assembly in its task to amend the state’s voting laws. The goal, as it had always been, was to address actual and potential voter fraud (and election fraud), and to remove and minimize such opportunities. The district court concluded as such but the 4th Circuit could only think in terms of race.

That “smoking gun,” by the way, had nothing to do with any requirement to show a photo ID to vote since that provision was a brand new provision and had not yet been in effect for any election; hence, it could not be evaluated. The “photo ID” requirement was actually a voter initiative. Voters were demanding it of their candidates and then when elected, of their representatives. Since only conservatives believe in voter integrity, it made sense that it became a priority when Republicans finally took control of the state government.

The 4th Circuit looked at the data the legislature collected and the changes it made to the state’s voting laws and concluded that according to the data, every change made was one that disproportionately affected African-Americans. Each of the voting tools and practices eliminated or restricted were ones that African-Americans disproportionately took advantage of.  They apparently take advantage of the first 7 days of early voting, their churches use the souls-to-the-polls Sundays, they take advantage of same-day voting and same-day registration, they, for some reason, are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the out-of-precinct voting (“of those registered voters who happened to vote provisional ballots outside their resident precinct, a disproportionately high percentage were African American”), and apparently, they disproportionately benefit from pre-registration (I don’t know how there can be any racial preference here at all). As the opinion read:

“In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the State offered only meager justifications. Although the new provisions target African-Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist. Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation. ‘In essence,’ as in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006), ‘the State took away minority voters’ opportunity because they were about to exercise it.’ This bears the mark of intentional discrimination.  Faced with this record, we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent.”

Furthermore, it read: “The record makes obvious that the ‘problem’ the majority in the General Assembly sought to remedy was emerging support for the minority party.  Identifying and restricting the ways African-Americans vote was an easy and effective way to do so.  We therefore must conclude that race constituted a but-for cause of SL 2013-381, in violation of the Constitutional and statutory prohibitions on intentional discrimination.”

What I don’t understand is how the court concluded that a photo ID constituted intentional discrimination against African-Americans when many states already require photo ID’s to vote, including strict photo ID laws, and the law itself provides one free of charge to anyone who doesn’t have one or cannot afford one.  Furthermore, the Supreme Court held in Crawford v. Marion County (2008) that a strict photo ID requirement to vote, to prove the identity of the person seeking to cast a vote, does not constitute an undue burden at all on anyone in their exercise of the right to vote. It addressed a challenge to Indiana’s strict photo ID law and upheld it. (North Carolina’s Voter ID law was modeled after it).  There are black people in Indiana, there are poor black people in Indiana, there are elderly people there, and there are poor elderly there; yet the Supreme Court, after reviewing all the evidence and testimony given at the district court level, still concluded that requiring a photo ID as a condition to vote in person is not discriminatory and does not impose an undue burden.

The court, in its analysis,  I believe, committed several serious errors. First, it converted a privilege (a long early voting period, two Sunday voting days, same-day registration, etc) into an entitlement. Instead of looking into whether the changes would absolutely prevent any voter who really wished to vote from doing so, the court should have looked into whether blacks would likely be able to conform with the stream-lining of the voting laws. What are voters actually entitled to when it comes to early voting and opportunities to register? And what are African-Americans specifically entitled to, above and beyond what are offered to persons of other races?

Up until the end of 1990’s, voters in North Carolina were only “entitled to” one day to vote – Election Day, a Tuesday. If a voter couldn’t vote at that time, he or she could either submit an absentee ballot or forfeit the opportunity. At what point must we submit to making election increasingly more convenient, especially when apparently, only one group of voters benefits?  Remember, there are significant costs associated with early voting.

Second, despite the Supreme Court’s holding in Shelby that the DOJ and courts should no longer rely on or consider historical discrimination, the 4th Circuit did exactly that. In its opinion, it continually reminded the reader of North Carolina’s “shameful” history of “past discrimination.” In its introduction, the opinion noted: “Unquestionably, North Carolina has a long history of race discrimination generally and race-based vote suppression in particular.  Although we recognize its limited weight, see Shelby, North Carolina’s pre-1965 history of pernicious discrimination informs our inquiry. It was in the South that slavery was upheld by law until uprooted by the Civil War, that the reign of Jim Crow denied blacks the most basic freedoms, and that state and local governments worked tirelessly to disenfranchise citizens on the basis of race.”

Third, in forming it’s opinion, the 4th Circuit did something that a court is never supposed to do (under the Separation of Powers doctrine) and that was to substitute its judgment for that of the legislature. To the court, the justifications in enacting the law may not have seemed good enough. Maybe the court felt that the excessive voting tools and voting mechanisms to benefit predominantly black voters were more important than addressing voter fraud, election fraud, ensuring voter confidence in NC elections, costs, etc. But that is exactly what a court must not do – substitute its judgement for that of the legislative body responsible to its particular constituency, its taxpayers. Here are some justifications that the 4th Circuit should have considered rather than dismiss:

(a)  Early voting imposes a tremendous cost. It is a rightful exercise of the legislative body to try to keep state costs at a minimum.

(b)  Maybe the General Assembly asked for the data, broken down by race, etc, in order to streamline early voting and to streamline the voting laws in such a way that when extra days, extra procedures benefit only one race instead of everyone, then that would seem a common sense way to look at making changes.

(c)  Maybe the General Assembly had access to information related to voter fraud in the state, when it is committed, by which group of people, etc and the changes made to the voting laws were intended to minimize the potential for voter fraud and election fraud. What I do know is that certain of the voting tools and procedures originally permitted in North Carolina have been great sources of problems. Pre-registration, same-day registration, same-day voting pose great potential for abuse and voter fraud. And what I also know is that decent people of good intentions have watched for years as the democrat-controlled State Board of Election did absolutely nothing when faced with hard evidence of actual voter fraud. It refused to prosecute any of the criminals.

(d)  Perhaps the streamlining of voter laws, its voting mechanisms and voting tools, was strictly political rather than racial. Since one cannot separate race from political party in North Carolina (blacks make up 22% of North Carolina’s electorate, and 83% identify with the Democrat Party), so every law affecting a political party in general also affects blacks particularly. In fact, having black skin is a better predictor for voting Democratic than party registration here in North Carolina. Maybe the General Assembly, with Republicans in the majority and wanting to continue enjoying political power, thought that it made sense to amend the voting laws by eliminating or paring back those tools and mechanisms that Democrats particularly take advantage of. The justification would be political (as political parties are prone to do) rather than racial. Here is something else to consider:

(e)  Perhaps the General Assembly had some data and facts and figures to support their photo ID requirement, such as:

(i)  Black voter turnout was higher than white voter turnout in 2012, including in states that had implemented voter ID laws. (This is according to U.S. Census Bureau data, and even the leftist PolitiFact)

(ii)  A recent study of the 2010 and 2012 primaries and general elections shows that voter ID laws did not disproportionately decrease minority turnout. (In fact, the study showed that turnout declined for people of all races from 43 to 31 percent, as ID requirements became stricter).  Contrary to what the left claims, photo ID requirements don not discriminate disproportionately according to race.

(iii)  Despite what the left argues and the mainstream media reports, voter fraud does exist. In 2012, the Pew Research Center found the following:

  • There were almost “24 million active voter registrations in the US which were either invalid or inaccurate
  • There were almost two million dead Americans were still on the active voting lists.
  • 12 million voter records were riddled with “incorrect addresses or other errors.”
  • Almost 2.75 million voters were registered in over one state.
  • 6.4% of all noncitizens voted illegally in the 2008 presidential election, and 2.2% voted in the 2010 midterms. (80% of illegals vote Democratic)

(iv)  In a close election, voter fraud could play a significant role. There is evidence that Al Franken, in fact, won his election due to voter fraud, with illegals playing a part.

(v)  Polls show that the vast majority of Americans support voter ID laws, including Democrats and blacks. Poll after poll confirms this, including the Rasmussen Poll, the FOX News Poll, and the Washington Post Poll.

Again, a court’s role is simple and must never presume to impart a different intention to, or to substitute its judgement for that of the legislative body.  That is why, under the Separation of Powers doctrine, each branch of government has its own separate role.

III.  THE ANALYSIS

So let’s look at the NC Photo-Voter ID Bill and assess it in light of the requirements of the 15th and 14th Amendments, as guided by the Supreme Court’s opinions in Shelby v. Holder and Crawford v. Marion County.

First of all, recall that the 14th and 15th Amendments, together with the 13th, are the Reconstruction amendments abolishing slavery and then granting blacks rights of citizenship (constitutional and civil. The amendments were intended to serve a specific purpose, necessitated by the political situation created by an unconstitutional war and in part, motivated by a desire to punish the southern states for seceding.

All three amendments, for the particular purposes they served, were morally justified – the 13th to abolish the vile and unconscionable institution of slavery, the 14th to grant citizenship to the free blacks and newly-freed slaves (and in fact, to define citizenship since nowhere in the Constitution is it defined), to ensure they were recognized with the same rights as every other citizen, to make sure they would not be denied due process should their liberty rights or property rights be violated, and to make sure they would be assured equal protection under the law, and the 15th to make sure that blacks would not be denied the right to vote.

The 15th Amendment was indeed striking in what it accomplished. On March 30, 1870, the amendment immediately made voters out of 4,000,000 people who had only 13 years earlier, been declared by the highest tribunal in the land (the Supreme Court, in the 1857 Dred Scott decision), as not being capable of becoming citizens of the United States because the black man who never intended to be part of the country so created, that “black men had no rights which the white man was bound to respect” (conclusions articulated by Justice Roger Taney, who wrote the opinion in Dred Scott). But let’s not read anything more into the language or intent of the 15th Amendment than was intended.

The 15th Amendment simply states that the right to vote cannot be denied or abridged to a person on account of race (ie, blacks cannot be denied the right to vote).  We know what the word “denied” means and we know what the word “abridged” means (to curtail). The NC Photo-Voter ID Bill does nothing to deny or abridge the right. It puts reasonable procedures in place to guarantee the right to vote for everyone Every instance of voter fraud cancels someone’s rightful vote. Obtaining an identification with a photograph is not unduly burdensome and is, in fact, is something that 99.99% of the people already do once they come of age and what they need to carry out many of life’s functions – such as get medication, pick up a check, cash a check, use a check or credit card, enter a school building, enter a courthouse, fly, etc. The Supreme Court has already ruled (in 2008, in the case of Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections) that a voter ID law requiring persons who show up at the polls to vote to present a government-issued form of photo identification (strict photo ID requirement) presents no meaningful burden to a person’s right to vote.  It’s 2018, for crying out loud !!!

The second section of the 15th Amendment which provides that “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation,” does NOT imply that the Voter Rights Act is a permanent law to be used on the South.  That section simply means that when states or political subdivisions thereof employ verifiable schemes of black voter suppression or actual disenfranchisement of the black vote, the federal government has the authority to step in to correct the situation in order to give meaning to the guarantee in Section 1. The Supreme Court, in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) made the constitutional determination that the Voting Rights Act has outlived its usefulness against the south because those invidious schemes no longer exist.

To repeat, Shelby removes North Carolina from the preclearance requirement with the federal government (NC can now do its own thing !) and Crawford stands for the constitutional bright-line rule that a strict photo ID is not inherently racist or discriminatory and does not pose any meaningful burden on a person’s right or ability to vote.

Furthermore, according to the Supreme Court, all rights can be abridged. We already know the first amendment rights to speech and religion, the rights to be free from searches, and the right to obtain and possess guns are already abridged.

The 14th Amendment provides that all laws should be equally applied to everyone (“Equal Protection;” everyone is protected or served equally by our laws).  The 14th Amendment requires “equal” protection and not “special” protection. The NC Photo-Voter ID Bill is neutral on its face and is written to ensure that every single voter can meet its requirements, including the poor and the elderly. A photo ID will be provided, free of charge, to anyone who cannot afford one and it will be provided at all county board of elections (which is more convenient than waiting in line at DMV locations).  Everyone knows someone that drives. To make any argument that certain people are too poor or too isolated to be able to find someone to give them a ride would be to assume we never modernized or entered the industrial era. A country, and a court system, so intent on moving forward with such sweeping social change like same-sex marriage and transgender acceptance can’t at the same time, assume people can’t get access to a car or a phone or a computer or a DMV or other county office.

Just because changing a law makes it easier or more convenient for only one group to vote doesn’t mean that the 15th or 14th Amendment requires that change. Heck, extending the election season for a whole month and including 4 “souls-to-the-polls” Sundays would be really convenient, right?  Taking votes over the phone would be convenient, yes?  Allowing one family member to vote for everyone in the family, and extended family, would be perfect, for sure!  Just because the legislative body or the voting public doesn’t want to make the changes (and sacrifice voter integrity) doesn’t mean the bill is racist or the voting public is racist, or the state legislature is racist. Groups like the North Carolina NAACP have to stop that nonsensical rhetoric.

NOTHING in the VOTER ID law of 2013 or in the current draft Photo-Voter ID law integrally impairs ANYONE’s right to vote. There is the single entitlement – the right to vote on Election Day (as was the law in NC up until the end of the 21st century (late 1990’s) and the right to submit an Absentee ballot if a person can’t make it to the polling location in person. All the other voting tools and mechanisms are privileges, or “indulgences” (as Justice Scalia termed them). The state interest (in honest, fraud-free elections that comports with the constitutional principle of “one citizen, one vote”) clearly outweighs any claims that a strict photo ID requirement may burden one group of voters. Again, the expectation is that EVERYONE’S vote is important, and the legislature has an obligation to protect the integrity of each person’s vote. Every instance of voter fraud, which we know has become a serious problem here in North Carolina, diminishes the weight of honest citizens. Every instance of voter fraud cancels the vote of someone who has voted legally.

Recently, I watched a YouTube video by journalist Ami Horowitz to examine just what people think of the NC photo ID law and the argument that blacks in North Carolina don’t all have a photo ID and that some simply can’t get one. It was rather enlightening. Ami went to the campus of UC-Berkeley to find out what college students think of voter ID laws and whether they believe they suppress the black vote. Their responses are classic liberal rhetoric. It is clear that white liberal college students have been indoctrinated by the rhetoric of Democrats and by such racist groups as the NAACP which alleges and alleges and repeats and repeats the same accusation – that voter ID laws are racist, they target blacks in their ability to vote, and that blacks are a particularly disadvantaged, incapable, uninformed, unskilled group of people.

Horowitz then took his “On the Street” segment to east Harlem, New York City to find out what black people there thought of the answers that the UC-Berkeley students gave. Their responses were clear – the answers given by the white UC-Berkeley students was offensive, and yes, racist.  Each person questioned had a photo ID on them, they said to be without one would be irresponsible, and not a single one thought it would be impossible to get one. To them, it appeared that blacks in the South have been stereotyped, to the detriment of their race in general. They could not understand the notion that fellow blacks couldn’t get a photo ID, something that everyone in modern society must have.

The point I am clumsily making is that groups like the NC NAACP and other groups that pursue policy (including challenging common-sense Voter ID and Photo ID laws) by promoting the inability of blacks, by alleging that whites use government to scheme in order to disenfranchise blacks, and by claiming that blacks are still the target of intentional discrimination are indirectly perpetuating the old stereotype that blacks are victims, that blacks are a disadvantaged race, that they are somehow less capable than every other race to conform with neutral laws. How offensive is it to allow the same stereotypes to be perpetuated as the one cited by Justice Taney in the Dred Scott decision? That was 160 years ago.  By constantly using arguments like blacks are too poor to be expected to get an ID, that they don’t have cars to drive to a DMV to get a free county-issued ID, that they are too uneducated to understand laws, that they can’t get to a computer (all libraries have them for people to use), that they don’t have cell phones (even though Obama gave every Democrat a phone), and that even if they could get to a computer, they lack the skills to use one or the ability to learn how to use one, they are teaching and indirectly recreating the segregated society that we left behind long ago, where there exists two general races – blacks who are generally inferior and unable to do for themselves and all others, who have no problem complying with laws.

We’ve worked too hard as a society – passing laws, enacting policies, federalizing traditional state sovereign functions, remedying past wrongs, whites teaching their children that skin color is irrelevant, and hopefully blacks teaching their children the same, and reinforcing in all school children, and in fact, every single person, of the plight of blacks in this country (Black History Month) – to put the wrongs of the past behind us and to move forward in a colorblind society, judging one another not by the color of our skin (which we can’t change) but by the content of our character (which is something each of us controls). It serves no purpose whatsoever to keep rehashing the past and reminding folks of how bad our country used to be. We can’t move forward until the restraints of the past are removed, or ignored. Black activist groups such as the NC NAACP certainly aren’t empowering blacks by poisoning them with the notion that they continue to need special protections in order to take an equal place in American society.

IV.  CONCLUSION

There is a reason the NC NAACP fights so hard to oppose a Voter ID. It truly can’t be that the NAACP and the Democratic Party believe that blacks are unable to obtain a photo ID (something every other race has no problem obtaining). No, the real reason is that the Democratic Party NEEDS the ability and opportunity to perpetrate fraud in the election process to order to win elections. It’s been that way since the illegal election of John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, as president, and even the election of Roy Cooper, a Democrat, as North Carolina’s governor. The NC NAACP and Democratic Party need elections in North Carolina to be loosely-controlled. NC is a potential swing state and because both groups stand on the same side of the political fence, they have more than a vested interest in how politics plays out.

The NC NAACP and Democratic Party in North Carolina continue to imply that blacks are disadvantaged in many many respects [poor, uneducated, uniformed, more likely to move around (you need a car for that!!), have more health problems, less access to technology, have less ability to comprehend laws, etc etc], are inferiorly-situated (because of the aforementioned issues), and inferior in general (by their claims of being less educated, less knowledgeable, generally un-informed and less capable) in order to make the case that a photo ID is inherently discriminatory. We see clearly which party is the real racist party.  What I don’t understand  is why blacks tolerate it. Their opposition to voting laws that take away excessive mechanisms and voting opportunities and tools, their support for Affirmative Action programs, and their constant demands for “special protection” rather than “equal protection” are all tacit ways they accept their inferior status in our society. Where is their dignity? Where are the black activist groups to stand up to oppose these positions on the grounds that they are racist and perpetuate horrible stereotypes?

Again, the real reason the NC NAACP and the Democratic Party fight so hard to oppose a strict photo voter ID law is because requiring a photo ID at the polls will frustrate their schemes to perpetrate voter fraud and blacks, as always, are the perfect group to manipulate and use to challenge common-sense laws. In 2018 (53 years after the Civil Rights Act passed and 63 years after the forced integration of public schools) we should NOT be having this conversation and blacks should NOT allow themselves to still be characterized as inferior or somehow behind all other races (including Hispanics).  Let’s be clear — both parties can benefit from voter fraud, but only one party is dishonest enough to want to do so.  And also, let’s be clear…  Enforcing a strict Photo ID has been challenged as discriminatory and as an undue burden on blacks and on the very elderly. Again, the Supreme Court entertained that challenge in Crawford v. Marion County (2008), against Indiana’s strict photo ID Voter ID law. It held that a STRICT photo ID requirement to vote does NOT amount to an unnecessary burden on anyone’s right to vote. Both a liberal justice and a conservative justice wrote opinions to that effect (yes there were two majority opinions!). In North Carolina, the challenge to our Voter ID law back in 2015-2016 was that it was discriminatory against blacks. The challenge was not that it burdened the elderly or that it burdened all minorities. (the review by the 4th Circuit was that it was intentionally discriminatory against blacks).  We have to stop falling for the NC NAACP and Democratic Party bullshit. We should all be horribly offended at Spearman’s words, just as a liberal college student is offended at hearing Ann Coulter or Ben Shapiro.

Reverend Spearman and the NC NAACP like to point to President Grant and his “clear signature” on the 15th Amendment and his message to Congress as to the historic nature of the amendment, but they cherry-pick with his message. In that special message to Congress delivered by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 30, 1870 in honoring the passage of the 15th Amendment, he offered this encouragement:

“I call attention of the newly enfranchised race to the importance of their striving in every honorable manner to make themselves worthy of their new privilege. To the race more favored heretofore by our laws I would say, withhold no legal privilege of advancement to the new citizen. The framers of our Constitution firmly believed that a republican government could not endure without intelligence and education generally diffused among the people. The Father of his Country, in his Farewell Address, uses this language: ‘Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.’”

Most people would hope that groups like the NC NAACP would put politics of race aside, stop inferring that the racism of the Reconstruction era still lingers in the hearts of white people and that every act of government is intentionally designed to somehow disenfranchise or otherwise discrimination against blacks, and instead take their cue from President Grant – to empower blacks not to cling to a history of victimhood but rather to project empowerment and equality through education and intelligence.

 

References:

The NC NAACP Addresses the Voter ID Law, November 26, 2018 at the NC State Capital in Raleigh –  https://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/video/18023119/

NAACP Outlines of Voter ID Protest –  https://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/video/17996798/

Opinion, US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, North Carolina NAACP v. Pat McCrory, 2016 (upholding the 2013 NC Voter ID law) –  http://www.ncmd.uscourts.gov/sites/ncmd/files/opinions/13cv658moo_0.pdf

Opinion, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, North Carolina NAACP v. Pat McCrory, 2016 (reversing the District Court opinion and striking down the 2013 NC Voter ID law) –  http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/161468.P.pdf

Opinion, US Supreme Court, Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections, 553 U.S. 181 (2008) –  Opinion by Justice Stevens –  https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-21.ZO.html

Opinion by Justice Scalia –  https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-21.ZC.html

VIDEO:  Ami Horowitz “How White Liberals Really View Black Voters”  –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrBxZGWCdgs

Ulysses S. Grant’s Special Message to Congress, March 30, 1870 (after the passage of the 15th Amendment)  –  https://www.nps.gov/ulsg/learn/historyculture/grant-and-the-15th-amendment.htm

Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. __ (2013) –  https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/12-96

Jay Delancy, “The Voter Fraud Too Many Deny,” US News & Observer, February 18, 2016. Referenced at: https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article61140462.html

Jay Delancy, “The Voter Integrity Project (VIP) Issues Response to Draft NC Voter ID Bill (v 0.9),” November 27, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://voterintegrityproject.com/draft-voter-id/ (or  https://voterintegrityproject.com/draft-voter-id/?fbclid=IwAR1SAo_s5tVW-QV5oEFO9Frf5AAXU6FhgZz7Z4N3pSRWCitLXXVyxfhtKGM

Aaron Bandler, “5 Statistics That Show Voter ID is Not Racist,” Dailywire, August 2, 2016.  Referenced at:  https://www.dailywire.com/news/7992/5-statistics-show-voter-id-not-racist-aaron-bandler

NC’s draft Voter – Photo ID Law (S.824), “Implementation of the Constitutional Amendment Requiring a Photographic Identification to Vote” –

https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/PDF/S824v2.pdf

Voting Rights Act of 1965 –  https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=100&page=transcript

Government Relations, Regulatory Affairs and Contracting Group, “Supreme Court Strikes down Voting Rights Act’s ‘Preclearance’ Formula,” Ballard Spahr, June 27, 2013.  Referenced at:  https://www.ballardspahr.com/alertspublications/legalalerts/2013-06-27-supreme-court-strikes-down-voting-rights-acts-preclearance-formula.aspx

Thomas J. Espenshade, Chang Y. Chung, and Joan L. Walling, (December 2004), “Admission Preferences for Minority Students, Athletes, and Legacies at Elite Universities,” Social Science Quarterly, December 2004. Referenced at: http://www.princeton.edu/~tje/files/Admission%20Preferences%20Espenshade%20Chung%20Walling%20Dec%202004.pdf    [OR accessible from Wiley Online Library, 85 (5): 1422–46].

Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: Will the Supreme Court Leave the First Amendment Intact?

PHILLIPS CASE (Before the Supreme Court, Dec. 5, 2017) - Jack Phillips and his lawyer, Kristen Waggoner (Alliance Defending Freedom) - BEST

Photo:  Taken by Diane Rufino on December 5, 2017, of Jack Phillips and his attorney, Kristin Waggoner, outside the Supreme Court building after Oral Arguments.

by Diane Rufino, March 9, 2018

We’ve all heard of the case of the Christian cake artist who declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his deeply-held belief in the Biblical view of marriage. What most people don’t know are the details of the case.

For example, the cake artist is Jack Phillips and he and his cakeshop (Masterpiece Cakeshop) were found guilty of discrimination in Colorado, in violation of an anti-discrimination law, at a time not only when the state constitution defined lawful marriage as only between a man and a woman, but also the law stated that no other type of marriage would be legally recognized in the state.

Also, for example, Phillips himself was discriminated against on account of his particular religious views when the state granted multiple exceptions to other bakers to deny goods and services (ie, to “discriminate”) when themes offended their sensibilities.

You hear people refer to the man at the center of the case as a “Christian baker.” What you don’t hear is people referring to him as a cake “artist.”  You will hear this case referred to as one addressing the baker’s free exercise of his religion; what you won’t hear is that this case is also about his freedom of speech and expression.

Most people hearing the limited facts gravitate to an issue that they are familiar with – religion v. gay rights – or the Right of one person to the Free Expression of Religion vs. Society’s interest in not having certain individuals suffer discrimination. They right away see that the right that the state of Colorado is violating in the case is Phillip’s right to live his life according to his religious beliefs. They see that Colorado is more interested in protecting the rights of homosexuals than in upholding the most essential right of all – the First Amendment’s religious liberty guarantee.

As it turns out, the case has not moved forward on that legal theory but rather on one most people would never have anticipated.  Instead, the case is one about the scope of the Right to Free Speech and Expression. Under this umbrella of speech and expression, Phillips is bringing in his right to religious liberty by asserting that his religious beliefs, his creed, dictates how he will expresses himself.

This (long) article seeks to acquaint you with the details and the many issues involved, including its inquest before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme court must decide whether the First Amendment bars application of Colorado’s public accommodations law (aka, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act) to compel a person to create expression (here, a wedding cake) that conflicts with that person’s sincerely held religious beliefs about same-sex marriage. In other words, it must decide if Phillips deserves an religious exemption under the CADA.

On Tuesday morning. December 5, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case (Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission). I traveled to Washington DC, to the Supreme Court building for this event because I wanted to hear the issues on both sides in order to fully understand this case.  I heard the issues and now I believe I understand what the case boils down to, in the minds of the justices.

It was interesting to learn that the views and concerns of ordinary people are not necessarily the views held by the justices of the Supreme Court

I snapped the photo above as Jack Phillips emerged from the Supreme Court building with his attorney Kristin Waggoner from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). In their comments to the media and to the groups there in support of their cause, they were optimistic and hopeful. They appreciated the justices’ questions and felt their case resonated with Justice Kennedy, the Court’s critical swing-vote member.

I hope the high Court will be able to weed out the critical issues at stake by the time it hands down its opinion   next year, on June 26 or thereabouts.

I.  FACTS

In July 2012, when same-sex marriage was still prohibited in the state of Colorado, residents Charlie Craig and David Mullins decided to get married in Massachusetts, where it was legal. They would return and celebrate with family and friends at a “wedding reception” for themselves in Lakewood, which is a suburb of Denver. When it came time to pick out a cake, they were referred by their wedding planner to the Masterpiece Cakeshop, also located in Lakewood. (The shop is located about 10 miles outside of Denver).

The founder, owner, and proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop is Jack Phillips, a skilled baker and a talented artist.  He calls himself a cake artist, and that is what he is known as. But most important for this case, he is also a devout Christian. His religious beliefs guide him in every aspect of his life, including his profession. “My bakery, the work I get to do… they are gifts from God and I want to honor him in everything that I do, including my art. When I finish in this life, I want Him to say: ‘Well done. You’ve been a good and faithful servant.” The name “Masterpiece” has particular meaning for him. First, it refers to artistry. Masterpiece Cakeshop indicates that the artistry is in relation to cakes – his cakes are artistic, not mass-produced. Second, the name “Masterpiece” refers to his belief that each person is created as a masterpiece by God.  And third, the name “Masterpiece” includes the term “Master” which, as Phillips explains, references the gospel of Matthew which says that ‘no man can serve two masters.” (Matt: 6:24).

Phillips believes he is serving Christ with each cake he makes. He especially believes so when it comes to creating wedding cakes. He sees a wedding as a religious sacred event and he knows the particular significance of the cake in the reception ceremony. The feeding of the cake to one another and sharing it with guests is probably the most significant part of the reception (with the giving of the toasts perhaps being the most entertaining!) Historically, the cake was a symbol of good luck, stemming back before Roman times – back to at least 1175 B.C. Of any form of cake, wedding cakes have the longest and richest history. In modern Western culture, the wedding cake serves a central expressive component at most wedding receptions; it not only communicates that the couple is now married, but forms the centerpiece of a ritual in which the couple celebrates their marriage by feeding each other cake and then sharing cake with their guests. Only a wedding cake communicates this special celebratory message; certainly the reception meal doesn’t do this, nor does the liquor. Wedding cakes are so essential to a modern wedding that one author suggests, “A memorable cake is almost as important as the bridal gown in creating the perfect wedding.”  Because they are so important to creating the right celebratory mood, wedding cakes are uniquely personal to the newly married couple and require significant collaboration between the couple and the artist to create the perfect design.

And so, Phillips devoted himself to creating a special unique cake for each customer, helping to celebrate the religiously sacred union of a man and a woman, and integrating his faith into each creation.

The process of creating the perfect cake (the perfectly unique cake) involves input from the couple. Phillips meets with the soon-to-be man and wife to find out how they met, how he proposed marriage, what they love about each other, what their interests are…  in short, what “their story is.”  Listening to the couple, Phillips tries to figure out what the predominant theme is to their relationship….  What it is about them that will hold them together and strong throughout their marriage. He wants the cake to embody that message as a way to celebrate their special day, and that is where the creativity comes in. He combines what he has learned about the couple, with some research, and maybe some meaningful phrases or words, to create an artistic cake that “shares their story” with family and friends.  With each cake project, Phillips pours himself into its design and creation, marshaling his time, energy, and creative talents to make a one-of-a-kind “masterpiece” celebrating the couple’s special day and reflecting his artistic interpretation of their special bond.

Phillips opened Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993 and has joyfully served the community of Lakewood for 22 years. In his years of business, he has been a part of major milestone events for many in the community. He’s watched families grow from young couples requesting wedding cakes to parents requesting graduation cakes for their children.

Wedding cakes and graduation cakes are not the only cakes created at Masterpiece Cakeshop. All kinds of people and groups have requested cakes for their various parties and celebrations. But Phillips is always guided by his conscience and his beliefs. And that has caused him to decline to bake cakes in the past. In fact, he has declined to bake cakes on several occasions since he started the business. He has turned down requests to create Halloween-themed cakes, lewd bachelor-party cakes, cakes with any type of profanity on them, cakes disparaging the LBGT community, cakes with anti-American themes, and a cake celebrating a divorce. No one has ever complained about these restrictions nor has he never been reprimanded over those decisions. But it would be the cake requested by Craig and Mullins that would get him in trouble.

When the couple entered Masterpiece Cakeshop on that July afternoon in 2012, same-sex marriage was not allowed in Colorado; the Colorado Constitution stated that “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.” It was before the Obergefell decision which struck down state bans on same-sex marriages and gave the red light on gay marriage. That opinion wasn’t handed down by the Supreme Court until 2015.  Anyway, the couple arrived with Craig’s mother and a book of ideas. As soon as the couple told Phillips that the cake was to celebrate their wedding, he cut them short and explained that he could not create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. As acknowledged by all parties, Phillips told the men, “I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t create cakes for same-sex weddings.” He recommended a baker who would certainly bake them a special cake. The couple became very angry, swore at Phillips, flipped him off, and stormed out of the bakery.

This point is very important:  Phillips was willing to sell them any pastry, and any type of baked goods they wanted for their affair.  And he was perfectly willing to sell them a cake, one suitable for a reception.  But what he couldn’t do, due to his religious beliefs, was decorate it with a gay wedding theme or to custom design one specifically celebrating gay marriage. As Justice Alito emphasized strongly during oral arguments, the record was undisputed that Phillips did not refuse to sell the couple a wedding cake; he refused to “create” a special cake for them. Phillips was very careful to use the word “create.”  (see pg. 67 of the transcript of Oral Arguments)

The couple, as anyone would understand, felt humiliated and demeaned. The outcome at the bakery bothered Mullins so much that he immediately took to Facebook, describing in a public post what happened. “If you feel like the treatment we received is wrong, please contact Masterpiece Cakeshop and let them know you feel their policy is discriminatory.”

[NOTE:  Colorado’s state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was struck down in the state district court on July 9, 2014, and by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on July 23, 2014. Furthermore, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals had already made similar rulings with respect to such bans in Utah on June 25 and Oklahoma on July 18, which are binding precedents on courts in Colorado].

Pretty soon, newspapers started calling the couple. And almost immediately, members of the LGBT community and supporters began calling Masterpiece Cakeshop. Phillips, his daughter, and others were called all kinds of names and they began receiving death threats. According to Mullins, it was only after they were turned down service that they learned that Colorado has an Anti-Discrimination Act (the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, or “CADA”) which includes a provision banning discrimination, including based on sexual orientation, in public accommodations.

The pertinent part of that statute reads: “(2)(a) It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation……”   

Although Craig and Mullins easily obtained a wedding cake, and a free one at that, with a rainbow design from another bakery, they went ahead, on Sept. 4, and filed a charge of sexual orientation discrimination with the Civil Rights Division, the board created by CADA to review its complaints. Phillips responded in a timely manner and explained his refusal to bake the cake. Phillips argued that he did not discriminate based on sexual orientation in violation of CADA because his religious objection to creating custom wedding cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies is based on the celebratory message those cakes promote. He explained that he serves all customers regardless of their sexual orientation. He simply believes that only marriage between a man and a woman should be celebrated. Thus, he declined to create custom art for a specific event because of the message it communicated, not because of the persons requesting it.  In addition, he argued that CADA should be read narrowly to avoid a constitutional violation because requiring him to create custom wedding cakes to celebrate a same-sex wedding ceremony would violate the “Compelled Speech Doctrine” (an element of Free Speech) and his right to the Free Exercise of religion under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution.

The administrative law judge (“ALJ”) did not side with Phillips, declined to interpret CADA narrowly, and on May 2013, it filed a formal complaint against Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop alleging that the refusal to create a wedding cake celebrating Craig and Mullins’ wedding constituted sexual-orientation discrimination in violation of CADA. It disregarded his religious liberty argument.  It further alleged that requiring Phillips to create custom cakes to celebrate same-sex weddings did not violate his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.  The ALJ reached this conclusion by not characterizing the cakes as “art” or “artistic creations”; in other words, because he did not characterize the products as “art” which implies creativity and expression, he avoided characterizing the cakes as speech and hence the First Amendment – and by incorporation to the States, the Fourteenth Amendment – do not apply.

Again, note that the Commission interpreted the law to be able to force a baker to bake a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding even though the state constitution said that “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.”

Finding that Phillips violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and rejecting his First Amendment defenses, the ALJ proceeded to order him to: (1) create custom wedding cakes celebrating same-sex marriages if he creates similar cakes for one-man-one-woman marriages, (2) retrain his staff to do likewise, and (3) report to the Commission every order he declines for any reason for a period of two years.  In contrast, and this is especially important, while this case was still ongoing, the Commission found that three secular bakeries did not discriminate based on creed when they refused a Christian customer’s request for custom cakes that criticized same-sex marriage on religious grounds (despite “creed” under CADA encompassing “all aspects of religious beliefs, observances, and practices … including the beliefs or teachings of a particular religion”).

Phillips appealed these rulings to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a 7-member panel, which adopted the ALJ’s opinion in full. Phillips then appealed the Commission’s ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals, asserting the same defenses made to the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The Colorado Court of Appeals, just as the ALJ did, declined to interpret the CADA narrowly, thus rejecting Phillips’ compelled-speech defense, and it also held that the ALJ’s order did not violate the Free Exercise Clause. It deemed CADA to be a neutral law of general applicability, despite the law’s broad exceptions and the Commission’s decision to target for punishment only expressive business owners who, like Phillips, oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds. The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the Commission’s ruling.

“Masterpiece remains free to continue espousing its religious beliefs, including its opposition to same-sex marriage,” Judge Daniel Taubman wrote. “However, if it wishes to operate as a public accommodation and conduct business within the State of Colorado, the law prohibits it from picking and choosing customers based on their sexual orientation.”

Phillips, on the other hand, believes he has rights under the First Amendment that continue to protect him as a cake artist even in the face of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA).  He defends his position on two grounds: (1) First, he doesn’t believe he should have to compromise his deeply-held religious beliefs. He lives his faith and doesn’t just make a show of it at church on Sunday or exercise it in his home. And the Biblical view of religion is a central part of his religion, as it has always been. This is his “Free Exercise” defense (Free Exercise of Religion). (2) Second, he has rightfully characterized his cakes as “expression” which brings him under the umbrella of the First Amendment’s guarantee of Free Speech. The Right of Free Speech includes the right not to speak. He says to be forced to make a cake for a member of the LGBT community is akin to being forced or coerced to speak a viewpoint that the government demands but which violates his conscience.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for religious freedom, contacted Jack Phillips and offered him free legal services to vindicate his beliefs and the protections afforded individuals like him under the US Constitution, thru the Bill of Rights. The ADF offers free counsel to those whose religious liberties have been violated; it seeks to preserve the right of people to freely live out their faith. On the other side of the conflict, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization determined to root out and destroy the Free Exercise of Religion, is defending Craig and Mullins. The ACLU, in typical form, sees this case only as a discrimination case.

Phillips, with the ADF, decided to appeal his case to the Supreme Court and submitted a Petition for Certiorari, which is a fancy legal term for the formal request submitted to the Court seeking review of the case and laying out the reasons for such review.

The Petition for Certiorari explained the issue for the Court: “The question presented is whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel Phillips to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.” In other words, can the state of Colorado force Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding against his deeply held religious beliefs?

The Petition sat with the justices for many months waiting for a decision. The Court had put off making a decision on whether to hear the case twice before, likely because a justice had not yet been appointed to replace Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly in February 2016. Shortly after this inauguration, Donald Trump nominated justice Neil Gorsuch, a conservative, to the bench, and in April, he was sworn in. Two months later, a majority of the justices agreed to “grant cert” (grant review) and hear the case. The argument that the Supreme Court found most compelling and the one it decided to grant review on was Phillips’ second defense (above). Indeed, it is a well-established principle of Free Speech, and one that the Supreme Court has upheld time and time again, that government cannot coerce a person to engage in speech that he or she finds offensive.

II.  QUESTION PRESENTED:

The question presented to the Supreme Court is this:  Does the application of Colorado’s public accommodations law (CADA) to compel a cake maker to design and make a cake that violates his sincerely-held religious beliefs about same-sex marriage violate the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment?

III.  THE ARGUMENTS:   (from The Heritage Foundation)

Undisputed:  Jack Phillips is an evangelical Christian whose religion dictates that marriage is a union reserved only for a man and a woman. When Charlie Craig and David Mullins entered Masterpiece Cakeshop and requested a cake to celebrate their marriage, Phillips told them: “I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.”

The question is whether his religion, in the marketplace of “accommodations” (goods and services), will permit him to be excused from participating in same-sex marriages or celebrations of same-sex marriages. More specifically, as an artistic baker, will his deeply-held religious beliefs permit him to be excused from creating a cake that celebrates the marriage of a same-sex couple?

Attorneys for the Respondents (Charlie Craig and David Mullins) see this case as a pure discrimination case, in violation of the anti-discrimination law passed in Colorado to prevent discrimination against certain protected classes of persons (“It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation….”). Respondents are a protected class of persons (“sexual orientation”) under the statue. Their argument is that Jack Phillips discriminated against them and denied them services he would provide to other heterosexual couples because they are homosexual. They assert that Phillips shouldn’t be allowed to “hide behind his religion” to excuse his outright discrimination.

The ADF attorneys representing Phillips respond by asserting that his religion is NOT a pretext for intentional discrimination but rather a creed that guides the very way he thinks and the way he lives his life – at home, in the community, and at work.

The same-sex couple posit the issue as one involving public accommodations, not about religion or free speech. They argue that it is a pillar of American anti-discrimination law that, when a business opens itself to serve the general public, it cannot refuse to serve customers based on who they are. Phillips responds by emphasizing that he does not refuse to serve customers based on “identity” (who they are), but rather on the themes they seek to promote in the custom cakes they order. In other words, he believes he has the right, under the First Amendment’s guarantee of Free Speech, to articulate and express only those themes and messages that don’t conflict with his religious beliefs and his conscience.

The couple argues that permitting Phillips to refuse services to them would open the doors to other forms of discrimination that have long been prohibited by courts. They hypothesize that, if his position prevailed, a portrait photographer could refuse to conduct photo shoots with Hispanic families or that a banquet hall could refuse to host events for Jewish families. And, indeed, the entire inquiry that Phillips endorses – a judge deciding whether a religious belief is sincerely held – would result in an uncomfortable entanglement of the courts in matters of religion.

But regardless of how Craig and Mullins, and the ACLU, try to explain their view of anti-discrimination, Phillips and his attorneys see this case as one touching on his First Amendment guarantees to the Free Exercise of his religious beliefs and to the right NOT to be compelled to express views that he fundamentally disagrees with. Such would amount to an egregious violation of his essential right of conscience, the right at the very heart of most of our first amendment liberties. As Phillips’ Petition to the Supreme Court for Certiorari states: “This Court’s review is needed to alleviate the stark choice Colorado offers to those who, like Phillips, earn a living through artistic means: Either use your talents to create expression that conflicts with your religious beliefs about marriage, or suffer punishment under Colorado’s public accommodation law.”

As explained above, Jack Phillips, has two arguments to support his position that the state of Colorado violated his constitutional rights by finding that he discriminated under the CADA:  First, that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects individuals in their right to live out their religious identity, including in the public square and in the marketplace; and second, that Colorado is forcing him to “create art” (expressive speech, which is protected by the First Amendment) which he finds repugnant to his religious beliefs. Just as the State cannot force children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or its drivers to display its motto on their license plate holders, so it cannot compel Phillips to express a message that offends his conscience (and which he repudiates).

As the ADF stated in its Petition, the Supreme Court’s review is needed to alleviate the stark choice Colorado offers to those who, like Phillips, earn a living through artistic means: Either use your talents to create expression that conflicts with your religious beliefs about marriage, or suffer punishment under Colorado’s public accommodation law.

Furthermore, as the specific facts of this case show (ie, the exceptions that the Commission chose to recognize under the CADA, as well as the energy used to go after Masterpiece), Phillips himself has been the victim of targeted discrimination on the basis of his religion. Given the exceptions to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) that state authorities have recognized for other cake artists, including three secular cake artists who refused to create custom cakes for customers seeking to criticize same-sex marriage on religious grounds, the Commission’s application of CADA targeted Phillips’ religious beliefs about marriage for punishment in violation of the Free Exercise Clause and coerced his speech in violated of the First Amendment’s guarantee of Free Speech and Expression. According to the CADA, bakers are free to refuse to bake a cake condemning same-sex marriage but MUST make a cake recognizing and celebrating it. It is a case of Viewpoint Discrimination, in violation of the First Amendment.

The ADF is asking the Supreme Court to address the targeted discrimination against religion by the CADA and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and to protect the free exercise of his right to express (expressive “speech” under the First Amendment) only those messages that comport with his deeply-held religious beliefs, while still welcoming all customers into his store. Phillips believes that the First Amendment’s free speech and religious liberty clauses protect his freedoms to do just that. Conscience is something that we all want the right to life by. The Constitution guarantees that to us.

That’s the big picture.

To get a case reviewed by the Supreme Court, the Petitioner (in this, Jack Phillips) must find error with the decisions of the lower courts or lower rulings, and to that extend, the Alliance Defending Freedom has asserted two essential and glaring errors. First, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and then the Colorado Court of Appeals refused to acknowledge Phillips as a cake “artist” who goes through a creative process to create wedding cakes. In other words, they held that his work comprises not speech or expression but rather conduct. And second, in denying Phillips a religious exemption from the CADA, the Commission and Court of Appeals applied the wrong standard of review. They applied the least stringent of all standards. When a law allows for individual exemptions or targets disfavored religious views for punishment, as was the case in Colorado under the CADA, strict scrutiny (the most stringent standard of review) must be applied under the Free Exercise Clause if a law allows for individualized exemptions or targets disfavored religious views for punishment.

Recognizing that Jack Phillips “speaks” and “expresses” messages and themes through his work is the cornerstone concept to his case. At least it’s the one that got him to the Supreme Court and before the Supreme Court.

Specifically, in their Petition to the Supreme Court requesting Certiorari, Phillips and the ADF made the following arguments:

A).  The First Amendment prohibits the government from telling private citizens “what they must say.”  It is undisputed that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission does not apply the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) to ban (1) an African-American cake artist from refusing to create a cake promoting white-supremacism for the Aryan Nation, (2) an Islamic cake artist from refusing to create a cake denigrating the Quran for the Westboro Baptist Church, and (3) three secular cake artists from refusing to create cakes opposing same-sex marriage for a Christian patron. If the Commission can make exemptions such as these, then it should also exempt Phillips in his polite decision to decline to create wedding cakes celebrating same-sex marriages on religious grounds when he is happy to bake other items for gay and lesbian clients. The Supreme Court specifically recognized and made special note of in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision (2015) the fact that “those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”  In other words, the Court made it clear that there are those who truly believe in the traditional and Biblical definition of marriage and that doesn’t make them discriminatory. But the Commission ruled that is exactly what the law requires – Phillips and his kind MUST accept and support gay and lesbian marriages despite deeply-held, “utmost, sincere convictions, by divine precepts” that teach him otherwise. The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld that mandate on appeal. In so doing, that court approved nothing less than the outright compulsion of speech.

The Colorado Court of Appeal’s reasoning turns the Compelled Speech doctrine on its head. All coerced speech results from “compliance with [a] law” – government compulsion of speech. But instead of concluding that forcing Phillips to create art violates the Free Speech Clause, the Colorado Court of Appeals held something stupid and ridiculous. It held that because the law requires Masterpiece to conform to its mandate and not discriminate when it comes to the certain “protected” classes of persons listed, any product created is not “artistic” but rather is “required conduct.”  That explanation thus robs Phillips of ownership of any message sent by his art.  In other words, the court upheld the compulsion of Phillip’s artistic expression because that speech was legally compelled, or required.  Maybe that is what the Court intended when it made its ruling – to strip Phillips of any ownership of message.  But the reasoning of the Court was circular (something they teach you to avoid in the first week of law school) and as the ADF argued, “threatens the continued vitality of the compelled speech doctrine and directly conflicts with this Court’s (the Supreme Court’s) Free Speech precedent.”

The First Amendment protects the right of individuals to hold a point of view different from the majority and to refuse to foster an idea they find morally objectionable. That is when the First Amendment is most meaningful and most important. “The Right of Free Speech thus includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.” (language taken from the Wooley v. Maynard case, 1977)  This right extends “beyond written or spoken words as mediums of expression,” and applies both to individuals and “business corporations generally” (language taken from the Hurley v. Irish-Am. Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Grp. of Bos. case, 1995 – a case the attorneys representing Phillips’ position will cite heavily during oral arguments).  The function of the First Amendment is to protect “’the sphere of intellect and spirit’ and ‘individual freedom of mind’ from all official control.” (Wooley)  Under the Supreme Court’s Compelled-Speech precedent, the state invades this freedom of mind when it forces a private citizen to speak the government’s own message, or when it compels a citizen to speak the message of a third party. The First Amendment prohibits the government from telling private citizens “what they must say,” or forcing or coercing them to do so.  Yet the Colorado Court of Appeals held that the state may compel Phillips to create a custom wedding cake promoting a morally objectionable message.

Colorado requires Phillips not only to interview the same-sex couple and develop a custom design celebrating their union, but to physically create their wedding cake with his own two hands.  Colorado thus mandates that Phillips do far more than recite an offensive message.  It requires him to first research and draft that message and then bring it to life in three dimensional form using a variety of artistic techniques that range from painting to sculpture.  Moreover, the Commission significantly magnified the intrusiveness of its compelled-speech order by requiring Phillips to reeducate his employees and report to the Commission every order he declines for any reason for the next two years.  If that is not compelled expression, nothing is.

The Supreme Court has made clear that public accommodation statutes are subject to the same First Amendment bounds as all other laws.  When, in the Hurley case, an LGBT group sought to march as a unit in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade over the parade organizers’ objection, the Supreme Court held that Massachusetts’ public accommodation law could not be applied to grant them access. The Court held that the state “may not compel affirmance of a belief with which the speaker disagrees.” Yet Colorado did so based on the feeble justification that Phillips’ speech is legally required.

B). It is undisputed that CADA does not require other cake artists to create custom cakes promoting an unwelcome message.  Yet the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the Commission’s (and hence the State of Colorado’s) determination that Phillips violated the CADA by declining to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds.  This ruling squarely conflicts with the Supreme Court’s Free Exercise precedent and with decisions by the Third, Sixth, and Tenth Circuit Courts (Colorado comes under the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit). Strict scrutiny applies under the Free Exercise Clause if a law allows for individualized exemptions or targets disfavored religious views for punishment. Colorado’s application of CADA does both, yet the Colorado Court of Appeals held that Phillips’ Free Exercise rights were not even implicated. That holding also conflicts with the Supreme Court’s precedent and decisions by the Third, Sixth, and Tenth Circuits. When a law allows for case-by-case exemptions, the government cannot deny a religious exemption without overcoming Strict Scrutiny.  It is undisputed that CADA allows for such individualized exceptions. It has been undisputed throughout this case, that CADA permits other cake artists to decline to create cakes that convey an offensive message to THEM. For example, Craig and Mullins, their attorneys from the ACLU, and the state’s Solicitor General (attorney general) have conceded that a baker may decline a custom order if “the design requested” violates a “tastefulness policy.” The State has not defined exactly what that “tastefulness policy” includes and protects, but nevertheless refused Phillips’ request for a religious exemption based on his particular objection to same-sex marriage.  The ALJ decision, for example, which was adopted in whole by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, stated that CADA would allow “a black baker [to] refuse to make a cake bearing a white-supremacist message for a member of the Aryan Nation” and that “an Islamic baker could … refuse to make a cake denigrating the Koran for the Westboro Baptist Church.”  Yet the Colorado Court of Appeals applied mere Rational Basis review (a very low standard of review, which basically allows any reason given by the State to justify its law to supersede or trump the individual’s particular civil liberty at stake) to the Commission’s decision to deny Phillips a religious exemption from CADA. (“Having concluded that CADA is neutral and generally applicable, we easily conclude that it is rationally related to Colorado’s interest in eliminating discrimination in places of public accommodation”). Again, that holding conflicts with the Supreme Court’s precedent.  The ALJ reasoned that “the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message” communicated by these cakes gave “rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse.”

Similarly, when a Christian patron requested that three secular bakeries in Colorado—Azucar Bakery, Le Bakery Sensual, Inc., and Gateaux, Ltd.—create custom cakes disapproving of same-sex marriage on religious grounds, the Commission found no probable cause of discrimination based on creed.  And it did so despite the fact that creed discrimination under CADA encompasses “all aspects of religious beliefs, observances, and practices … [including] the beliefs or teachings of a particular religion,” The Commission found an exception to CADA when the denial of service is “based on the explicit message that the [customer] wished to include on the cakes.”  This offensive-message exception to CADA is expressly based on the Commission’s individualized assessment of a baker’s reasons for declining a cake order.  If the Commission considers the denial based on the message of a cake, as it did for the African-American, Muslim, and three secular cake artists cited above, an exemption to CADA is made available.  But if the Commission views the baker’s rationale differently, as it did Phillips’ religious objection to creating custom cakes honoring a same-sex marriage, no exception to CADA applies. Indeed, by deeming Phillips’ religious reasons for declining to create a custom cake to be of less importance than those of other cake artists, the Commission singled out Phillips’ religious practice for “discriminatory treatment.”  In short, the Commission deemed every similarly-situated baker’s objection to creating an offensive cake “message based” and thus exempt from CADA.  It held only Phillips in violation of state law.

That in and of itself was discrimination. It was blatant discrimination on Colorado’s part.  Government discrimination.  It was arbitrary. And arbitrary enforcement of the law is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause.

Regardless of how the State of Colorado, the Commission, and the Colorado Court of Appeals characterize Phillips’ religious objection, the Supreme Court’s controlling precedent holds that because a system of individualized exemptions exists, Colorado cannot deny an exemption to Phillips without first hurdling Strict Scrutiny. Strict Scrutiny is the proper form of judicial review that courts must use to determine the constitutionality of certain laws that burden fundamental rights and liberties. To pass Strict Scrutiny, the state legislature must be able to show that it passed the law to further a “compelling (very important) governmental interest,” and it was “narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.” Put another way, the legislature must show that it couldn’t further than same compelling interest by means less restrictive on the fundamental right or liberty at stake. Apparently because so many exemptions have been recognized by the State of Colorado with respect to the CADA, the law is overly-restrictive and thus could never survive Strict Scrutiny. “In circumstances in which individualized exemptions from a general requirement are available, the government may not refuse to extend that system to cases of ‘religious hardship’ without a compelling reason.”

But beyond blatant discrimination by the State of Colorado, there was malice and animus towards Phillips and his religious beliefs. There was hostility.

The Commission, for example, found it critically important that the three secular cake artists who refused a Christian patron’s orders did so “based on the custom cakes’ explicit message,” although they were happy to create other items ordered by Christian customers. Phillips explained that he too declined to create a custom same-sex wedding cake based on its morally objectionable message and that he was happy to provide other baked goods for Craig and Mullins’ reception and is happy, in general, to create other items for gay clients.  After all, a wedding cake is not a passive object but a central component of the wedding reception that celebrates the couple’s joining as one.  Nonetheless, the Commission found Phillips in violation of CADA. The only explanation for this disparate treatment is the Commission’s disapproval of Phillips’ religious beliefs about same-sex marriage.  Such hostility was apparent during the proceedings in Phillips’ case.  One Commission member summarized the Commission’s logic, during the course of an administrative hearing, as follows:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”

The Commission thus disfavored Phillips’ request for an exemption from CADA based on its religious nature.  In so doing, the Commission violated the essential Free Exercise principle that “government, in pursuit of legitimate interests, cannot, in a selective manner, impose burdens only on conduct motivated by religious belief.”  Yet the Colorado Court of Appeals ignored CADA’s real operation and declined to address the evidence showing the Commission’s targeting of Phillips’ religious views.

[Reference:  Petition for Certiorari –  http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/16-111-cert-petition.pdf

(Note:  This overview is not meant to exclude other arguments made, including the one highlighting the fact that the different Circuit Courts (federal courts of appeals) are in conflict as to which legal standard controls whether a product such as Phillips’ custom cakes is to be considered “expressive” or not. One of the specific reasons the Supreme Court will hear a case is when the various Circuit Courts are in disagreement, so that it can establish uniformity).

As you can see, the Phillips case is complex and examines some very important and fundamental issues, including, ironically, discrimination against Phillips himself and his religion.

Again, the most successful approach that Jack Phillips and the Alliance Defending Freedom could take in addressing the violation to his rights as a Christian man, determined to live his life according to his deeply-held religious beliefs, and being engaged in as an artisan who designs custom celebratory cakes, is the “Compelled Speech” argument.

Luckily, it appeared that the justices of the Supreme Court agreed with Phillips that there is speech and expression involved in the work that he does to create wedding cakes.          

IV.  ORAL ARGUMENTS:

PHILLIPS CASE (Before the Supreme Court, Dec. 5, 2017) - Signs.JPG

Perhaps indicative of the gravity of the issues at the center of the case, the justices of the Supreme Court extended the time for oral arguments for this case. It allotted almost 90 minutes instead of the usual hour.

The justices’ questioning at oral argument highlighted the difficult balance of interests in this case. Phillips has fundamental individual rights recognized since the before the founding of the country, memorialized in the First Amendment – rights to speech, thought, religion (a relationship with his Maker), and conscience – which should be respected to the highest degree by government, and Craig and Mullins, as homosexual men, have certain civil rights which should not be ignored to make them feel like second-class citizens. All sides were closely scrutinizing the questions asked by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who seems once again to be a critical vote in what could be a split decision. He expressed concerns for the rights of the same-sex couple, but he also noted that the commission had been “neither tolerant nor respectful of Phillips’ religious beliefs.” Justice Samuel Alito agreed with that latter point, stating that is was “disturbing” that the commission was apparently engaged in “a practice of discriminatory treatment based on viewpoint.”

Justice Kagan’s questioning expressed concerns about the difficulties in drawing lines.  If a baker is allowed to refuse to bake a cake, would it not be true that make-up artists, hairstylists, tailors, caterers, florists, chefs, and the like could all refuse to provide services to same-sex couples planning their weddings?  The baker’s counsel tried to distinguish Mr. Phillips’s work as an artist. Justice Elena Kagan pushed back. She asked on which side of the line chefs, florists, hairstylists, tailors and makeup artists would fall. According to Phillips’s position, he designs cakes as works of art that convey a message, and is therefore engaged in speech, whereas neither a chef nor a tailor are engaged in the same sort of artistic creation. Justice Stephen Breyer expressed concern that this position would “undermine every civil rights law.”

These questions highlight the toughest question in this case: Where is the line? The Supreme Court will likely try to thread that needle by issuing a narrow decision that does not massively unsettle either First Amendment or anti-discrimination rights.

On behalf of its client, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is ultimately asking the Supreme Court to alleviate the stark choice Colorado offers to those who, like Phillips, earn a living through artistic means, which is ‘Either use your talents to create expression that conflicts with your religious beliefs about marriage, or suffer punishment under Colorado’s public accommodation law,’ and to find a solution that respects each parties’ rights.

In a lengthy and charged oral argument session (with time restrictions lifted!!), the nine justices wrestled with how Americans who hold different views on marriage in our post-Obergefell society can continue to live with each other in mutual respect. The arguments fell essentially into four issues, which the justices addressed or explored with the four representative attorneys engaging in oral arguments.

At oral argument, the following counsel were present:

(1)   Kristin K. Waggoner, with the Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of Jack Phillips (the Petitioner – the one petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the case),

(2)  General Noel J. Franscisco, on behalf of the federal government (as amicus curiae, or “Friend of the Court,” supporting Phillips),

(3)  Frederick R. Yarger, Colorado Solicitor General, on behalf of the State of Colorado

(4)  David D. Cole, with the ACLU, on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins (the Respondents – those responding to the Petitioner)

This is also the order in which they went before the justices of the Supreme Court for questioning.

Note that the justices have different approaches to the interpretation of the Constitution and a different understanding of their roles on the Court:

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan – are liberal justices (They believe they are not limited to the plain words and meaning of the Constitution and can expand its terms and meaning as the government needs or as social change requires. They are activist justices who look only to what a “modern” Constitution should read rather than rely on the commentary provided by those who wrote and ratified the document).

Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts – are conservative justices  (For the most part, they believe in the original meaning and intent of the Constitution when they are interpreting it to render an opinion. They don’t believe in arbitrarily expanding the powers of the federal government through a liberal reading of the Constitution, as the other justices do, but rather try to maintain the balance of power among the parties (the federal government, the States, and the People) as the Founders envisioned and as historical commentary supports. (The one glaring exception to this general description of these justices is the Obamacare case where Chief Justice Roberts committed judicial malfeasance to uphold the Affordable Care Act)

Neil Gorsuch, the most recent member to join the bench, has embraced an expansive view of religious rights in his past decisions from the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (the same jurisdiction that includes the state of Colorado!)  Many wonder if this will have any implications for the case at hand.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is the historic “swing voter” on the Court, sometimes siding with the liberal justices and sometimes with the conservative ones. Kennedy often sides with the conservative justices on issues of the First and Second Amendment and States’ Rights under the Tenth Amendment. For example, it was Kennedy who provided the swing vote in the 5-4 decision of McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the seminal opinion defining the meaning and intent of the Second Amendment, including the individual right to have and bear arms for self-defense. It was also Kennedy who provided the swing vote in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015 to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage and to recognize the right of homosexuals to marry.  It is Kennedy that counsel often has to convince during oral arguments.

In an unprecedented move, the Trump administration’s Justice Department publicly expressed its support of Phillips’ position in a “friend-of-the-court” (amicus curiae) brief submitted in September 2017.

I have broken this section on oral arguments down into the individual exchanges with each of the attorneys, first giving an overview of the issues that the justices chose to explore with that attorney, and then selecting portions from the actual dialogue to highlight the themes addressed and the types of questions asked.  [The dialogue is taken directly from the transcript of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Dec. 5, 2017 –  (https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2017/16-111_f314.pdf),

1.  When Is a Service Provider Considered an “Artist” Who “Speaks” Through His/Her Work ?

While the justices were open to the argument that Phillips, as a “cake artist,” engaged in protected speech when he “creates” his wedding cakes, the more liberal justices, Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan tried to figure out which other businesses “speak” through their work. Indeed, they spent considerable time (almost all of Phillips’ attorney, Ms. Kristin Waggoner’s time) trying to pinpoint which occupations associated with weddings are “expressive” enough to enjoy free-speech protections. Justice Elena Kagan asked if a hair stylist would qualify, to which Ms. Waggoner responded, “Absolutely not.” But Kagan replied, “Why is there no speech in creating a wonderful hairdo?”

The concern of the justices is whether all sorts of providers – tailors, hair stylists, makeup artists, chefs, architects, photographers – could refuse to supply goods and services for same-sex weddings. Justice Stephen Breyer summed it up best: “The reason we’re asking these questions,” he said, “is because obviously we want some kind of distinction that will not undermine every civil rights law.” He also suggested that there was no way to rule for Mr. Phillips without inflicting grave damage on principles of equality.  The conservative justices on the other hand countered that to rule in favor of the same-sex couple would inflict grave damage on someone as religiously-disciplined as Phillips and on our American notion of free speech.

In response to the questioning regarding “Who speaks?,” the threshold question, according to Ms. Waggoner, is whether a message is being conveyed through the creation. Is the service provider “engaged in speech”

The conservative justices considered whether artists can be required to convey messages with which they profoundly disagree, in light of laws requiring that they do so that persons are not discriminated against in the marketplace.

pp 4-25

MS. WAGGONER: (counsel for Mr. Jack Phillips; opening remarks to the Justices) Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: The First Amendment prohibits the government from forcing people to express messages that violate religious convictions. Yet the Commission requires Mr. Phillips to do just that, ordering him to sketch, sculpt, and hand-paint cakes that celebrate a view of marriage in violation of his religious convictions.   (“Compelled Speech”)

JUSTICE GINSBURG: What if it’s an item off the shelf? That is, they don’t commission a cake just for them but they walk into the shop, they see a lovely cake, and they say we’d like to purchase it for the celebration of our marriage tonight. The Colorado law would prohibit that. Would you claim that you are entitled to an exception?

MS. WAGGONER: Absolutely not. The Compelled Speech doctrine is triggered by compelled speech. And in the context of a pre-made cake, that is not compelled speech. Mr. Phillips is happy to sell anything in his store (that is pre-made). In the context of a product already made, it’s already been placed in the stream of commerce in a public accommodation setting. His speech has been completed. Any message he intended to convey in that particular cake (if any at all) was completed at the time he created it. The message, if any at all, was not unique or personal to the buyer….

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: But I thought that the couple was looking at his already pre-designed cakes that he appears to sell without any customization, and they sat down with him, and he said I don’t supply cakes of any kind to gay couples So I thought this cake was about his refusal to supply a cake for any same-sex wedding ceremony.

MS. WAGGONER: Justice Sotomayor, that’s not how he responded to the couple. The couple came in and they requested a custom cake for their wedding. At that point, they brought in a folder with all kinds of designs they wanted to discuss rainbow-layered cake. (That’s when Mr. Phillips explained that he could not create a cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. The couple ended up purchasing a rainbow-layered cake – or received one free). A rainbow-layered cake is certainly expression….. The order imposed by the Commission requires Mr. Phillips to make such a cake. It also requires him to include words and symbols on his cakes. It’s that broad. So if, for example, Mr. Phillips had used a Bible verse on a cake in the past, he would be compelled to use that Bible verse in a different context (for same-sex couples).

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Who else, besides the individuals getting married (and the cake artist) speaks at a wedding?

MS. WAGGONER: The artist speaks, Justice Ginsburg. It’s as much Mr. Phillips’s speech as it would be the couples’.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Who else then? Who else as an artist? The person who does floral arranging, who owns a floral shop? Would that person also be speaking at the wedding? What about the person who designs the wedding invitations? Or the person who sets the menu for the wedding dinner? What about the jeweler? The hair stylist? The make-up artist?

JUSTICE KAGAN: — I’m quite serious, actually, about this, because, you know, a makeup artist, I think, might feel exactly as your client does, that they’re doing something that’s of great aesthetic importance to the wedding and that there’s a lot of skill and artistic vision that goes into making a — somebody look beautiful. And why wouldn’t that person or the hairstylist — why wouldn’t that also count?

MS. WAGGONER: Because it’s not speech. And that’s the first trigger point

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: But explain how baking a cake becomes expressive speech, how that medium becomes expressive speech.

MS. WAGGONER: Certainly not all cakes would be considered speech, but in the wedding context, Mr. Phillips is painting on a blank canvas. He is creating a painting on that canvas that expresses messages, and including words and symbols in those messages. We have someone that is sketching and sculpting and hand designing something, that is creating a temporary sculpture that serves as the centerpiece of what they believe to be a religious wedding celebration, that cake expresses a message.

JUSTICE BREYER: The reason we’re asking these questions is because obviously we want some kind of distinction that will not undermine every civil rights law, including those protecting African Americans and Hispanics, and including everybody who has been discriminated against in very basic things of life, food, design of furniture, homes, (education), and buildings. Now, I’ve tried to narrow it and specify it to get your answer.

MS. WAGGONER: Thank you, Justice Breyer. In terms of the test that would be applied, the Court would first ask under the speech analysis, is there speech? And by asking that, you are asking is there something that is being communicated and is it protected?

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Well, your client was saying that providing a cake to a same-sex couple was against his free-expression rights because, and his free-exercise rights, because he cannot celebrate that kind of marriage.

MS. WAGGONER: Mr. Phillips is looking at not the “who” but the “what” in these instances, what the message is.

JUSTICE GORSUCH: Well, actually, counsel, that seems to be a point of contention. The state seems to concede that if it were the message, your client would have a right to refuse. But if it — the objection is to the person, that’s when the discrimination law kicks in. That’s footnote 8 of the Colorado Court of Appeals’ decision. I know you know this. So what do you say to that, that actually what is happening here may superficially look like it’s about the message but it’s really about the person’s identity?

MS. WAGGONER: I would say that in footnote 8, the court applies an offensiveness policy, which allows the state the discretion to decide what speech is offensive and what is not, and it did not apply that in a fair way to Mr. Phillips, which creates Viewpoint Discrimination, as well as a violation of free exercise — the Free Exercise Clause. But what’s deeply concerning is that is not the theory that Respondents (Craig and Mullins) are submitting to this Court today. They believe that they can compel speech, of filmmakers, oil painters, and graphic designers in all kinds of context. If there are no further questions, I would like to reserve the balance of my time.

2Compelled Speech for Everyone

In the exchange with General Francisco, council for the United States, the justices explored the boundaries of the First Amendment. The justices addressed the particular argument advanced by the government that the First Amendment provides “breathing space” (ie, protection) for business owners, including professional artists and those who provide creative and expressive products, to be free to engage in expressive events like a wedding and to be from the compulsion of law to engage in speech which fundamentally offends their religious beliefs and their conscience. Indeed, he pointed out the unique question presented to the Court – The constitutionality of a state law requiring somebody to create speech and contribute that speech to an expressive event to which they are deeply opposed.

At issue is the understanding and recognition that there is a difference between refusing to express an offensive message and refusing to serve an individual based on an identity (such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation).

Justice Kennedy commented: “If you prevail, could the baker put a sign in his window, we do not bake cakes for gay weddings?  Would that not be an affront to the gay community?” General Francisco responded that there are dignity issues at stake on both sides, not just for Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins.

pp. 25-48

GENERAL FRANCISCO: (Council for the United States, as amicus curiae, or “Friend of the Court”) Mr. Chief Justice, and may it — may it please the Court: This case raises an important issue for a small group of individuals; namely, whether the state may compel business owners, including professional artists, to engage in speech in connection with an expressive event like a marriage celebration to which they’re deeply opposed. In those narrow circumstances, we believe the Free Speech Clause provides breathing space –

JUSTICE GINSBURG: How narrow is it? Consider Justice Kagan’s question. I mean, we’ve gotten the answer that the florist is in the same place as the cake-maker, so is the person who designs the invitations and the menus. I don’t see a line that can be drawn that would exclude the makeup artist or the hairstylist.

GENERAL FRANCISCO: Well, Your Honor, that’s, of course, the question that the Court has to answer at the threshold of every Free Speech Case. Is the thing that’s being regulated something we call protected speech? I think the problem for my friends on the other side is that they think the question doesn’t even matter. So they would compel an African American sculptor to sculpt a cross for a Klan service

JUSTICE KENNEDY: But the problem for you is that so many of these examples – and a photographer can be included — do involve speech. It means that there’s basically an ability to boycott gay marriages.

GENERAL FRANCISCO: Well, Your Honor, I think what it boils down to is that in a narrow category of services that do cross the threshold into protected speech — and I do think it’s a relatively narrow category that has protection. For example, I don’t think you could force the African American sculptor to sculpt a cross for the Klan service just because he’d do it for other religious groups.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: If you prevail, could the baker put a sign in his window, we do not bake cakes for gay weddings?

GENERAL FRANCISCO: Your Honor, I think that he could say he does not make custom-made wedding cakes for gay weddings, but would offer most other cakes (non-custom-made cakes) and that would not cross the threshold.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Do you think that would be an affront to the gay community?

GENERAL FRANCISCO: Well, Your Honor, I agree that there are dignity interests at stake here, and I would not minimize the dignity interests to Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins one bit, but there are dignity interests on the other side here too.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: We’ve always said in our public accommodations law we can’t change your private beliefs, we can’t compel you to like these people, we can’t compel you to bring them into your home, but if you want to be a part of our community, of our civic community, there’s certain behavior, conduct you can’t engage in.

GENERAL FRANCISCO: When you force a speaker to both engage in speech and contribute that speech to an expressive event that they disagree with, you fundamentally transform the nature of their message from one that they want to say to one that they don’t want to say. As this Court made clear in the Bob Jones case, the IRS could withdraw tax-exempt status from a school that discriminated on the basis of interracial marriage, but I’m not at all sure that it would reach the same result if it were dealing with a Catholic school that limited married student housing to opposite-sex couples only. I think when you get to this case, if you agree with our test — and I know that I have a little bit of an uphill battle in convincing some of you of that. If you agree with our test, I think the heightened scrutiny standard is particularly easy because they’re the same interests at stake as were at stake in Hurley.  [Hurley v. Irish-American GLB of Boston, 1995.  Facts:  In 1993, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council was authorized by the city of Boston to organize the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The Council refused a place in the event for the Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston (GLIB). The group attempted to join to express its members’ pride in their Irish heritage as openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals. The Massachusetts State Court ordered the Veterans’ Council to include GLIB under a state law prohibiting discrimination on account of sexual orientation in public accommodations. The Veterans’ Council claimed that forced inclusion of GLIB members in their privately-organized parade violated their free speech. A unanimous Supreme Court held that the State Court’s ruling to require private citizens who organize a parade to include a group expressing a message that the organizers do not wish to convey violates the First Amendment by making private speech subordinate to the public accommodation requirement. Such an action “violate[s] the fundamental First Amendment rule that a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his own message and, conversely, to decide what not to say.”]

JUSTICE GORSUCH: So General, what is the line? How would you have this Court draw the line?

GENERAL FRANCISCO: I think there are a couple of ways to draw that line, and this is something that the Court has to struggle with in a lot of cases. I think the first way to draw that line is you analogize it to something that everyone regards as traditional art and everyone agrees is protected speech.

JUSTICE GORSUCH: Like the Jackson Pollock?

GENERAL FRANCISCO: Exactly. And here you have a cake that is essentially synonymous with a traditional sculpture except for the medium used. But I also think that the Second Circuit’s decision in the Mastrovincenzo case provides a good and workable standard when you’ve got something that is part art and part utilitarian. And what the Second Circuit asks is it predominantly art or predominantly utilitarian? And here people pay very high prices for these highly sculpted cakes, not because they taste good, but because of their artistic qualities…. But I think the point is when you cross that threshold into free speech, the question is can you compel somebody to create and contribute speech to an expressive event.

JUSTICE KAGAN: What if somebody comes in, it’s a baker who’s an atheist and really can’t stand any religion, and somebody comes in and says I want one of your very, very special, special cakes for a First Communion or for a Bar Mitzvah. And the baker says no, I don’t do that. I don’t want my cakes to be used in the context of a religious ceremony.

GENERAL FRANCISCO: Well, if it rises to the level of speech, then I think he has a claim just like that same baker (Phillips) and he could refuse to sculpt that cake.

Justices refer to decisions of the Second Circuit looking at various factors when a product is both artistic and utilitarian? Is the product primarily artistic or utilitarian?  Are people paying for the utilitarian side of it or are they paying for the artistic side of it? What about the price? Does the price reflect more the product’s utilitarian feature or its artistic quality?

JUSTICE BREYER: There’s a category of people called artisans. An artisan is a kind of artist. They are in many fields. They are also people who are discriminated against. And we’re in a country of minorities, there are many different groups that have been discriminated against. For many years Congress has passed laws saying, at least to the artisans: You cannot discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation. If we were to write an opinion for you, what would we have done to that principle?

GENERAL FRANCISCO: Well, Your Honor, none of these Courts’ cases has ever involved requiring somebody to create speech and contribute that speech to an expressive event to which they are deeply opposed. And if I could go back to my example, when you force that African-American sculptor to sculpt that cross for a Klan service, you are transforming his message. He may want his cross to send the message of peace and harmony. By forcing him to combine it with that expressive event, you force him to send a message of hate and division.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: What would the government — what would the government’s position be if you prevail in this case, the baker prevails in this case, and then bakers all over the country received urgent requests: Please do not bake cakes for gay weddings. And more and more bakers began to comply.

GENERAL FRANCISCO: (The case before you) is a case for strict scrutiny because you’d be able to show that the application of the law is narrowly tailored to the government’s interests in ensuring access. Here, of course, you have these products that are widely available from many different sources. And I would submit, just to finish up, that if you were to disagree with our basic principle, putting aside the line about whether a cake falls on speech or non-speech side of the line, you really are envisioning a situation in which you could force, for example, a gay opera singer to perform at the Westboro Baptist Church just because that opera singer would be willing to perform at the National Cathedral. And the problem is when you force somebody not only to speak, but to contribute that speech to an expressive event to which they are deeply opposed, you force them to use their speech to send a message that they fundamentally disagree with. And that is at the core of what the First Amendment protects our citizenry against 

3Mutual Tolerance Is Essential in a Free Society

In one of the most charged exchanges of the day, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yarger about whether a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission who compared Phillips to a racist and a Nazi demonstrated anti-religious bias—and that, if he did so, whether the judgment against Masterpiece should stand.

After disavowing the commissioner’s comments, Yarger argued that the ruling should still stand. But Kennedy returned to the issue again, telling Yarger that “tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs.”

Kennedy also pointed out there were other cake shops that would have accommodated Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the same-sex couple who requested a cake for their wedding.

In a similar line of questioning, Justice Samuel Alito pointed out that the state of Colorado had failed to demonstrate mutual tolerance when it only protected the freedom of cake artists who landed on one side of the gay marriage debate—namely, the state’s side.

When three religious customers went to cake artists to request cakes that were critical of same-sex marriage, those cake artists declined—yet Colorado did not apply its anti-discrimination statute to punish the artists. But when Phillips declined to create a cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage, Colorado imposed a three-pronged penalty that drove him out of the wedding cake business, causing him to lose 40 percent of his business.

pp. 51-66

MR. YARGER: (Counsel for the Colorado Civil Rights Commission) Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please — please the Court: A decade ago Colorado extended to LGBT people the same protections used to fight discrimination against race, sex and a person’s faith. Masterpiece Cakeshop is a retail bakery that is open to the public and subject to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. Yet, Petitioners’ claim that they can refuse to sell a product, a wedding cake of any kind in any design to any same-sex couple.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: The Chief Justice has introduced the question of the Free Exercise Clause in this case. Commissioner Hess says freedom of religion used to justify discrimination is a despicable piece of rhetoric. Suppose we thought that in significant part at least one member of the Commission based the commissioner’s decision on the grounds of hostility to religion. Suppose we thought there was a significant aspect of hostility to religion in this case?”

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: The one biased judge might have influenced the views of the other.

JUSTICE GORSUCH: Mr. Yarger, you actually have a second commissioner who also said that if someone has an issue with the laws impacting his personal belief system, he has to compromise that belief system.

JUSTICE ALITO: One thing that’s disturbing about the record here, in addition to the statement made, the statement that Justice Kennedy read, which was not disavowed at the time by any other member of the Commission, is what appears to be a practice of discriminatory treatment based on viewpoint. The Commission had before it the example of three complaints filed by an individual whose creed includes the traditional Judeo-Christian opposition to same-sex marriage, and he requested cakes that expressed that point of view, and those — there were bakers who said no, we won’t do that because it is offensive. And the Commission said: ‘That’s okay. It’s okay for a baker who supports same-sex marriage to refuse to create a cake with a message that is opposed to same-sex marriage.’ But when the tables are turned and you have the baker who opposes same-sex marriage, that baker may be compelled to create a cake that expresses approval of same-sex marriage.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Maybe you could answer — maybe you could Justice Alito’s question.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Counselor, tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs. And because accommodation is, quite possible….  we assume there were other shops. other good bakery shops, that were available.

MR. YARGER: Your Honor, I don’t agree that Colorado hasn’t taken very seriously the rights of those who wish to practice their faith.

JUSTICE BREYER: I’m asking can you do this? Can a baker say do this? Could the baker say, you know, there are a lot of people I don’t want to serve, so I’m going to affiliate with my friend, Smith, who’s down the street, and those people I don’t want to serve, Smith will serve. Is that legal? Would that be legal under Colorado law? That’d be a kind of accommodation, so they get the cake.

MR. YARGER: It would be, Your Honor…. I would say that there’s — there is a possibility that that does not violate the law…

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Does it make a difference that same-sex marriage was not permitted in Colorado at the time of these events?

MR. YARGER: I don’t think it does, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Could he have said I am not going to make a cake for, you know, celebrating events that aren’t permitted in Colorado?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Would Colorado be required to give full faith and credit to the Massachusetts marriage?

MR. YARGER: No it wouldn’t.

JUSTICE ALITO: It did not at the time. This is very odd. We’re thinking about this case as it might play out in 2017, soon to be 2018, but this took place in 2012. So if Craig and Mullins had gone to a state office and said we want a marriage license, they would not have been accommodated. If they said: ‘Well, we want you to recognize our Massachusetts marriage,’ the state would say: ‘No, we won’t accommodate that.’ If the couple had said: ‘Well, we want a civil union,’ the state would say: ‘Well, we won’t accommodate that either.’ And yet when he goes to this bake shop and he says I want a wedding cake, and the baker says, no, I won’t do it, in part because same-sex marriage was not allowed in Colorado at the time, he’s created a grave wrong. How does that all fit together? (pg. 66)

pp. 69-71

JUSTICE GORSUCH: I have a quick question about the Commission’s remedy. As I understand it, Colorado ordered Mr. Phillips to provide comprehensive training to his staff. Why isn’t that compelled speech and possibly in violation of his free-exercise rights? Because presumably he has to tell his staff, including his family members, that his Christian beliefs are discriminatory. This order was ordering him to provide training and presumably compelling him to speak, therefore, and to speak in ways that maybe offend his religion and certainly compel him to speak. And given that, plus the discriminatory language in the Commission’s discussion, it concerns me.

MR. YARGER: It has nothing to do with a particular person’s belief. It has to do with ensuring that the conduct that was found discriminatory, and if that conduct can be regulated consistent with the First Amendment, I think that a training requirement like that can be imposed.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Part of that speech is that state law, in this case, supersedes our religious beliefs, and he has to teach that to his family. He has to speak about that to his family, who are his employees.

MR. YARGER: He has to speak about that fact.

4.  Disagreement Does Not Equal Discrimination

Justice Kennedy challenged the state of Colorado and the ACLU on their argument that Phillips discriminates on the basis of identity, rather than his deeply-held religious belief of what constitutes a rightful marriage. In an exchange with the ACLU attorney, Justice Kennedy called the repeated attempts to characterize Phillips as discriminating on the basis of identity as too easy of an accusation. (Kennedy’s term was “too facile”)

During the oral arguments, the court appeared to recognize what is patently obvious from the facts. Phillips welcomes all people into his store, encourages them to buy off-the-shelf items, and will make custom-designed cakes for them provided they don’t ask for items that violate his beliefs. He has served homosexuals for the 24 years his store has been in operation and welcomes their business to this day. He has not discriminated nor does he discriminate against anybody because of their identity.

While the ACLU attorney for Craig and Mullins, Mr. David Cole, continued to compare the conduct by Phillips to the conduct by shopkeepers in the Jim Crow South who sought to keep the races “separate but equal,” the conservative justices suggested the comparison was not sincere but rather part of a smear attack to divert attention from the real issue: Phillips simply disagrees with the state on the issue of marriage and that disagreement stems not from discrimination based on the identity of the individuals but from a view of the legitimacy of the institution as he understands it to be, according to the age old teachings of his faith. Chief Justice Roberts appeared to recognize this when chiding the ACLU for lumping in supporters of traditional marriage with racists, noting that in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision (the gay marriage opinion handed down by the Court in 2015), the Court had said support for traditional marriage is rooted in “decent and honorable” premises and not discrimination against the individual. What the Chief Justice was emphasizing was that the Court had acknowledged that there would, and will be, good-faith disagreements over gay unions based on firmly-entrenched religious doctrine.

Specifically, the key sections of the Obergefell that discuss “decent and honorable” religious opposition to gay marriage include:

“Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here….”  (from the majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy)

“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” (from the majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy)

“This view [the traditional definition of marriage – as between a man and a woman] long has been held—and continues to be held—in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.”  (from the majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy)

“Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is, unlike the right imagined by the majority, actually spelled out in the Constitution.”  (Dissenting opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts)

“Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.” (Dissenting opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts)

Finally, the oral arguments revealed the scope of how far the state of Colorado is willing to go to impose its views of marriage on citizens. In one line of questioning from Chief Justice Roberts, both to Mr. Yarger and to Mr. Cole, Colorado admitted that it would force Catholic Legal Services to provide a same-sex couple with legal services related to their wedding even if it violates Catholic teachings on marriage. And in questioning from Justice Alito, the ACLU answered that the state could force a Christian college whose creed opposes same-sex marriage to perform a same-sex wedding in its chapel.

Like many Americans, Jack Phillips seeks to work in a craft that applies his talents and in a manner consistent with his deeply-held religious beliefs, including on marriage. In order to follow his conscience, he has turned down requests for cakes that contain messages expressing certain ideas: Halloween and divorce, anti-American themes, and even anti-gay messages. What he has never done is turn away anyone because of who they are.

pp. 72-92

MR. COLE: (counsel for Craig and Mullins; introductory remarks to the justices) Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: We don’t doubt the sincerity of Mr. Phillips’s convictions. But to accept his argument leads to unacceptable consequences. A bakery could refuse to sell a birthday cake to a black family if it objected to celebrating black lives. A corporate photography studio could refuse to take pictures of female CEOs if it believed that a woman’s place is in the home. And a florist could put a sign up on her storefront saying we don’t do gay funerals, if she objected to memorializing gay people. Now, both Petitioner and the United States recognize that these results are unacceptable with respect to race. And so they suggest that you draw a distinction between race discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination and the state’s ability to protect it. But to do that would be to constitutionally relegate gay and lesbian people to second class status, even when a state has chosen, as Colorado has done here, to extend them equal treatment.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: When the Court upheld same-sex marriage in Obergefell (The Obergefell v. Hodges case, 2015), it went out of its way to talk about ‘the decent and honorable people who may have opposing views.’ And to immediately lump them in the same group as people who are opposed to equality in relations with respect to race, I’m not sure that takes full account of that concept in the Obergefell decision.

MR. COLE: So, Chief Justice Roberts, the Court in Obergefell did, indeed, say that individuals are free to express their disagreement through speech with the notion of same-sex marriage, but it did not say that businesses who make a choice to open themselves to the public can then turn away people because they are gay and lesbian. All the baker needed to know about my clients was that they were gay and lesbian. And, therefore, he wouldn’t sell them a wedding cake.

(The justices neglected to point out the error in Mr. Cole’s statement here, and hence, his argument. Justice Alito had emphasized earlier in oral arguments that the record is undisputed by all sides that Mr. Phillips did not refuse to provide Craig and Mullins a wedding cake; he explained that he could not “create” one celebrating same-sex marriage).

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Let’s say Craig and Mullins said we would like to have on this wedding cake of ours these words: ‘God bless the union of Craig and Mullins.’ The baker would not put that message on their cake. But he would not put that message (ie, ‘God bless the union of any two males, or any two females) on any other cake either.    (Trying to determine if the discrimination was on the “identity” of the individuals, as homosexuals, or just on the message conveyed in the creation of the cake).

MR. COLE: If he made a cake that said ‘God bless the union of Dave and Craig’ the only difference between the two cakes is the identity of the customer who is seeking to purchase it.

JUSTICE BREYER: Well, you see, all custom goods, all custom goods have an element of expression. An artisan is not quite the same as an artist, but an artisan can be a great artisan and can produce good things. But where the clash is between an important public policy, the policy of opening the doors to everyone, including minorities, in the public commercial area, well, there the speech element of the artisan is not really sufficient to outweigh that. Now, that’s pretty straightforward. And they do have to leave open the instance where the speech goes farther than just preparing a specially-shaped cake. What the Court has done when it’s expressive conduct, because that’s what we have here at most is expressive conduct, we don’t ask is it expressive from the perspective of the baker or is it expressive from the perspective of the — of a customer. We ask what’s the state’s interest in regulating? What is the state doing? And if the state is regulating conduct because of what it expresses, well, now that’s strict scrutiny.

JUSTICE ALITO: Are the words on the cake expressive conduct or are they not speech?

MR. COLE: The conduct, Your Honor, that is regulated by Colorado here is not the words on the cake. The conduct that Colorado regulates is the sale by a business that opens itself to the public, invites everybody in, it’s regulating the conduct of refusing a transaction to somebody because of who they are… It doesn’t matter if it’s speech or it’s not speech.

JUSTICE ALITO: But you just said that someone can be compelled to write particular words with which that person strongly disagrees.

JUSTICE ALITO: There are services, I was somewhat surprised to learn this, but weddings have become so elaborate, that will write custom wedding vows for you and custom wedding speeches. So somebody comes to one of these services and says: You know, we’re not good with words, but we want you to write wedding vows for our wedding, and the general idea we want to express is that we don’t believe in God, we think that’s a bunch of nonsense, but we’re going to try to live our lives to make the world a better place. And the person who is writing this is religious and says: I can’t lend my own creative efforts to the expression of such a message. But you would say, well, it’s too bad because you’re a public accommodation. Am I right?

MR. COLE: What I would say, Your Honor, is that if that case were to arise, it would certainly be open to this Court to treat it differently, but……

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Differently on what basis? On what principle would we use to treat it differently?

JUSTICE GORSUCH: Well, let’s take a case a little bit more likes ours. It doesn’t involve words – just a cake. It is Red Cross, and the baker serves someone who wants a red cross to celebrate the anniversary of a great humanitarian organization. Next person comes in and wants the same red cross to celebrate the KKK. Does the baker have to sell to the second customer? And if not, why not?

MR. COLE: It’s not identity-based discrimination. All Colorado law, and public accommodations law generally, requires is that you not discriminate on the basis of particular protected classes, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, and the like.

JUSTICE GORSUCH: Well, why is that any different than our case? You say it’s not based on identity, but the baker might well say ‘I despise people who adhere to the creed of the KKK. That’s one way of characterizing it. Another way of characterizing it is saying I disagree with the message of the KKK. So too here. One could make the exact analogy, I would think, that you could either characterize it as: I don’t like people of a certain class OR I have a religious belief against this kind of union. So how do I distinguish those cases?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: I misunderstood your answer to Justice Gorsuch. Did you say you could refuse to sell the identical cake with the red cross?

MR. COLE: If he is not doing it on the basis of the identity — a protected identity. The Ku Klux Klan as an organization is not a protected class. So, yes, the public accommodations law does not say you must treat everybody; it just says you cannot discriminate on the basis of protected categories.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Well, but this whole concept of identity……   Suppose the baker says: ‘Look, I have nothing against gay people. He says but I just don’t think they should have a marriage because that’s contrary to my beliefs. It’s not their identity; it’s what they’re doing. I think your identity thing is just too facile.  (In other words, Kennedy wasn’t convinced that Phillips engaged in identity discrimination or that the couple’s argument that such conduct by Phillips is identify-based discrimination)

JUSTICE BREYER: Go back to Justice Gorsuch’s hypothetical and substitute a religious group for the KKK. Suppose his religious group, bizarre perhaps, has the same beliefs as the KKK. A baker would have to sell a cake to them, right?

MR. COLE: Yes, he can’t say no because he objects to the message.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Is your answer to my hypothetical about the religious legal services organization the same as Mr. Yarger’s? [Referring to the hypothetical he gave on pp. 47-49 of the Transcript: “There are many different faiths, but Catholic Legal Services provides pro bono legal representation to people who are too poor to afford it and they provide it to people of all different faiths. So let’s say a couple just like Craig and Mullins here (Craig and Mullins) is having a contract dispute with somebody in connection with their marriage, and they go into Catholic Legal Services and say we want you to take this case against Masterpiece Cakeshop. And the lawyers say ‘We can’t offer our services because we don’t support same-sex marriage.’ If a heterosexual couple comes in and says we need particular services in connection with our marriage, they would provide it. Would Catholic Legal Services be in violation of the Colorado law?  They provide their services to all faiths. And there’s nothing in the law that I can see that says it’s limited to for-profit organizations.”  Mr. Yarger responded that under the Colorado law, CLS would be put to the choice of either not providing any pro bono legal services or providing those services in connection with the same-sex marriage.]

MR. COLE: I think — I — I – I (rambles)

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: So, if someone had a problem in connection with their marriage, again, whatever it is, contract dispute, something like that, they would have to provide representative services to someone who had a similar problem in connection with a same-sex marriage? Even though they provide more than just speech. There is expressive conduct involved. Providing representation before a Court involves a lot more than simple speech (simple responses to questions or to answers).  [In other words, the Chief Justice was noting that religious organizations would either succumb to Compelled Speech or shut their doors].

pp. 97-102

MS. WAGGONER: (Rebuttal opportunity) In the context of Masterpiece Cakeshop, this Court has found that corporations have free speech rights, and that closely family-held corporations have free exercise rights. I have three brief points in rebuttal:

First of all, the bias (anti-Catholic religion bias; anti-religion bias) of the Commission is evidenced in the unequal treatment of the cake designers, the three other cake designers who were on the squarely opposite sides of this issue. If the Court looks at the analysis that was provided by the Colorado Court of Appeals, line by line, they take the opposite approach to Mr. Phillips that they do to those who are unwilling to criticize same-sex marriage. The Colorado Court of Appeals said that they could have an offensiveness policy, and they said that those three cake designers were expressing their own message if they had to design that cake. In Mr. Phillips’s case, they said it wasn’t his message, that it was simply compliance with the law. In the other case, they said that the cake designers, because they served Christian customers in other contexts, that that was evidence it was a distinction based on the message, but in Mr. Phillips’s case, they ruled the opposite way. Professor Laycock’s brief provides a good analysis of that as well. It was filed in this case.

Second, the Compelled Speech Doctrine and the Free Exercise Clause is anchored in the concept of dignity and speaker autonomy. And in this case dignity cuts both ways. The record is clear on that. Demeaning Mr. Phillips’ honorable and decent religious beliefs about marriage, when he has served everyone and has a history of declining all kinds of cakes unaffiliated with sexual orientation because of the message, he should receive protection here as well. This law protects the lesbian graphic designer who doesn’t want to design for the Westboro Baptist Church, as much as it protects Mr. Phillips.

Lastly, political, religious, and moral opinions shift. We know that. And this Court’s dedication to Compelled Speech Doctrine and to free exercise should not shift.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Counsel, the problem is that America’s reaction to mixed marriages and to race didn’t change on its own. It changed because we had public accommodation laws that forced people to do things that many claimed were against their expressive rights and against their religious rights. It’s not denigrating someone by saying, as I mentioned earlier, to say: If you choose to participate in our community in a public way, your choice, you can choose to sell cakes or not. You can choose to sell cupcakes or not, whatever it is you choose to sell, you have to sell it to everyone who knocks on your door, if you open your door to everyone.

MS. WAGGONER: Justice Sotomayor, I think that the gravest offense to the First Amendment would be to compel a person who believes that marriage is sacred, to give voice to a different view of marriage and require them to celebrate that marriage.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Then don’t participate in weddings, or create a cake that is neutral, but you don’t have to take and offer goods to the public and choose not to sell to some because of a protected characteristic. That’s what the public anti-discrimination laws require.

MS. WAGGONER: A wedding cake expresses an inherent message that is that the union is a marriage and is to be celebrated, and that message violates Mr. Phillips’s religious convictions.

Again, all eyes were on Justice Kennedy, the likely swing-vote in this case, to see what the pivotal issue in the case was for him.  The ‘Compelled Speech” argument, Phillips’ strongest argument in this case, may not have been the issue that resonated strongest with Kennedy. Instead, it may have been the outright, targeted hostility to religion by the state of Colorado. As he commented:  The state “has been neither tolerant nor respectful of baker’s religious faith.”

Yet he focused on what might happen if artisans had the freedom not to create products for same-sex weddings. Could there be a virtual boycott of such weddings?

We all think that the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision (depending which side Justice Kennedy falls down on) will hand down an opinion either supporting Phillips and Free Speech (and furthering the right of Christians to live according to their beliefs) or supporting Craig and Mullins and the unfettered right of homosexuals not to be discriminated against in public accommodations. But Justice Kennedy’s concerns about the hostility towards Phillips and his religion by the state of Colorado just may leave open the possibility that the Supreme Court could return the case to the commission for a rehearing before an unbiased panel. That prospect actually seemed to intrigue Chief Justice Roberts.

We shall see. I personally don’t believe Phillips will lose this case.

The Alliance Defending Freedom seems confident that the decision will be in Phillips’ favor. Representatives of the ADF met in person with us about an hour after oral arguments and said they were reading through the newsfeed and most attorneys, from both sides, were giving the edge to Phillips.

PHILLIPS CASE (Before the Supreme Court, Dec. 5, 2017) - Jack Phillips leaving the building after oral arguments ended (#5)

V.  WHAT THIS CASE IS ABOUT

David Mullins explains the case this way: “This case isn’t about Jack Phillips and it isn’t about us. It’s about the principle that gay people should be able to receive equal service at businesses open to the public. They shouldn’t have to look for another baker, like we did. The point of this case is that with this law we have in Colorado it is illegal to discriminate against and provide unequal service to gays in public accommodations.” (The Denver Post, Aug. 14, 2017)

Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the ACLU, and indeed, the entire LGBT community would have us believe this is a simple case of discrimination…. The same denial of services that African-Americans endured during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era.

But this case is much more than that. As Kennedy pointed out during oral arguments: “It’s too facile.”  If it were simply a case of outright discrimination, the case would simply revolve around the words and the legislative intent of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

Individuals are far more than the sum of their actions; they are the product of their conscience. Conduct can be compelled, conformed, but only to a certain extent. To go beyond would be to compel thought and speech in order to conform them as well.

This case is about the security and vitality of the First Amendment to recognize the right of an individual to exercise his or her religious beliefs and his right to express deeply-held views even when that individual leaves his or her home and church and ventures into the marketplace of goods and services, while also recognizing the equally important right of an individual not to be discriminated against based on an immutable or inherent characteristic such as skin color, disability, or biological gender.  No respectable religion would teach its followers to hate based merely on characteristics the good Lord assigned at birth.

This case asks whether we still have the right to live according to our conscience and not be compelled into conduct or speech and expression that violates it.

To repeat myself once more, the case revolves around a man named Jack Phillips. Jack is a very devout Christian. And he is a baker. He makes and decorates cakes, as long as they don’t offend his core beliefs and conflict with his conscience. He has a simple rule: he’ll sell anyone a cake. Gay, straight, transgender, green. Anyone. But he won’t make a custom cake for every event – such as for Halloween (a pagan holiday), celebrating divorce (he doesn’t believe in divorce), having an adult theme (as for bachelor parties), having an anti-American message, celebrating atheism, or intentionally discriminating (such as baking a cake condemning same-sex marriage).  The cakes he takes particular pride in are his wedding cakes. He doesn’t simple bake and decorate a wedding cake; he “creates” them. To him, they celebrate one of God’s most holiest of ceremonies – the joining of a man and a woman in holy matrimony.  As a religious Christian, he sees it as sinful participation, on his part, to make a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.  He’ll sell a same-sex couple a pre-made cake, cookies, or any other product in his store. He’ll bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, but he won’t decorate it as such (no groom-groom wedding toppers, for example). Craig and Mullins wanted a 7-layer cake, in the colors of the rainbow, to symbolize their gay pride. The cake that they envisioned for their reception would be one that made a statement. The couple wasn’t just looking to celebrate their marriage as a union between themselves as individuals; more specifically and to the point, they wanted to celebrate that they married as two homosexual men. In other words, the cake, through its design, conveyed and expressed a very specific message.

Jack Phillips believes it is his Constitutional right to conduct himself, even in his trade, in accordance with the exercise of his religious beliefs. But the Leftists at the Colorado Civil Rights Commission didn’t think so. They don’t believe anyone engaged in business has the right to “hide behind their religion” and not serve customers in an equal manner.

According to the LGBT left, the case isn’t about religious liberty or the rights of conscience. They sum the case up in this way: What Phillips wants is for the law to weight his personal beliefs about a person’s intrinsic identity above that person’s right to access a business. As Sarah Jones wrote in New Republic: “Wedding vendors don’t run ministries. They run businesses that are open to the public. And while business owners do have some legal flexibility over who they do or do not serve, this isn’t a matter of no shoes, no shirt, no service. The action Jack Phillips wants to take is morally equivalent to rejecting a customer because they’re blind or female or black.”

But that argument is exceptionally misleading. The truth is that businesses aren’t really open to the public and they certainly don’t hire without discrimination. Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks, and other musicians and bands are in the business of providing musical entertainment. Yet they refuse to perform for audiences with whom they disagree with. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro, North Carolina, because he had a fundamental disagreement with a law enacted by the state’s legislature – HB2 (the Transgender, or “anti-Transgender,” Bathroom Bill) and he has refused to allow his music to be used by Republican politicians. Famous fashion designers refused to design clothes for Melanie Trump because of opposition to her husband’s administration. Jack Phillips didn’t and doesn’t discriminate based on any immutable characteristics such as skin color, gender, or physical disability and so Jones’ analogy is just liberal nonsense. He politely refuses service when he is asked to design and decorate a cake that makes a statement that is offensive to the core religious beliefs that define his faith. Faith is certainly much more than what an individual does on a Sunday or professes in his prayers. Faith is what provides the foundation for the way one thinks and how one conducts himself in every aspect of life.

In an op-ed that he wrote for USA Today, Phillips explained why he couldn’t bake a wedding cake for same-sex couples:

“What I didn’t say was that I wouldn’t sell them a cake. I’m happy to sell a cake to anyone, whatever his or her sexual identity. People should be free to make their own moral choices. I don’t have to agree with them. But I am responsible for my own choices. And it was that responsibility that led me to decline when two gentlemen came into my shop and invited me to create a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. Designing a wedding cake is a very different thing from, say, baking a brownie. When people commission such a cake, they’re requesting something that’s designed to express something about the event and about the couple. What I design is not just a tower of flour and sugar, but a message tailored to a specific couple and a specific event — a message telling all who see it that this event is a wedding and that it is an occasion for celebration. In this case, I couldn’t. What a cake celebrating this event would communicate was a message that contradicts my deepest religious convictions, and as an artist, that’s just not something I’m able to do, so I politely declined.

But this wasn’t just a business decision. More than anything else, it was a reflection of my commitment to my faith. My religious convictions on this are grounded in the biblical teaching that God designed marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Obviously, not everyone shares those convictions. I don’t expect them to. Each of us makes our own choices; each of us decides how closely we will hold to, defend and live out those choices.

The two men who came into my shop that day were living out their beliefs. All I did was attempt to live out mine. I respect their right to choose and hoped they would respect mine. But they did not. And, considering all of the hate mail, obscene calls and death threats my family has received since I was sued, a lot of other people don’t see tolerance as a two-way street, either.

But the Constitution does. The First Amendment defends my right to create custom cake art that is consistent with my faith, while declining requests that ask me to celebrate events or messages that conflict with my faith. As a cake artist, I can live out my faith in my day-to-day life, and make that faith the basis for my creative decisions.

We live in a big, diverse nation. We don’t all have to agree on religion. We don’t have to agree on questions of sexual morality. We don’t even have to agree on the meaning of marriage. What we should be able to agree on is our mutual freedom, as Americans, to live out the ideals that are most important to us. Just as I shouldn’t be able to use the law to force others to design something that promotes my beliefs, others shouldn’t be able to force me to design a cake that celebrates theirs.

That, for me and those at Alliance Defending Freedom who are defending me, is what this case is about. I hope the U.S. Supreme Court affirms that basic freedom. And if those who oppose me would grant me a certain measure of respect — not as someone they agree with, but as a fellow citizen free to stand by my own moral choices, well … that would be icing on the cake.

[Reference:  Jack Phillips, “Here’s Why I Can’t Custom-Design Cakes for Same-Sex Weddings”]

This case is about that slippery slope whereby the very justices who sit on the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, who hold the security of our essential and fundamental freedoms and liberties in their hands but who fail to appreciate the reason for those freedoms and liberties (as we had seen by the 5-4 decisions in the 2008 and 2009 Second Amendment cases of Heller and McDonald, respectively; the four liberal justices refused to recognize the original and historic meaning of the Second Amendment, the most critical of our rights to maintain our liberty) and who fail to even comprehend that people still live their lives completely in accordance to the dictates of their faith. How can religious freedom remain secure when half the Court believes that people “hide behind their faith” to break laws or that faith is merely a pre-text for their otherwise non-conforming conduct. How can religious freedom remain secure when half the Court believes that it is mere lip service when a person claims to have “deeply-held religious beliefs”?  And how can religious freedom remain secure when half the Court believes that religion is an obstacle to social progress and therefore can, and should, be minimized?

The LGBT community and Liberal justices ask the question “Should we allow business owners like Jack Phillips to discriminate by hiding behind his religion” because they themselves don’t know what it is like to have a deeply-held faith, to believe that that faith requires a person to conduct his or her life according to its dictates at all times, at home, in church, in school, in the public arena, and yes, in the workplace, and to suffer in their conscience when they are forced to act against their religious beliefs. To ask such a question or make such a statement evidences a general lack of understanding of what it means to have a strong faith.  And this in and of itself is a very sad state of where our country is.

VI.  PRACTICAL LOOK AT THE CASE

Jack Phillips made it clear from the outset that he, as the owner and the wedding cake designer for Masterpiece Cakeshop, does not discriminate based on the sexual orientation of a prospective customer. He will knowingly, willingly, and happily sell his products to any person, including any gay or lesbian person or couple, who wishes to purchase his baked goods. Nevertheless, Craig and Mullins, without any tolerance for a man who politely and kindly explained his religious beliefs or appreciation for the position he was in, and having already having found a suitable replacement baker and obtaining the very cake they desired, filed a discrimination claim under the CADA and then went to the ACLU to file suit against Phillips.

On December 6, 2012, administrative law Judge Robert N. Spencer handed down his decision: “The undisputed facts show that Respondents [Masterpiece Cakeshop] discriminated against Complainants [Craig and Mullins] because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage, in violation of 24-34-601(2), C.R.S.” [ie, the pertinent section of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, as codified in the Colorado Revised Statutes, or CRS.]  As punishment, he and his employees (his family members) were required to do several things, as explained earlier, including being trained on how to conform with the CADA.

Thus, if Phillips wished to continue baking custom cakes in the State of Colorado, under penalty of fines and, potentially, jail:

  • He was forced to participate in an event that the Colorado constitution explicitly prohibited (at the time).
  • He was required do so against deeply held religious convictions.
  • He must do so despite the fact that there are hundreds of other cake makers in the Denver area. (“Nothing says ‘my beliefs are being violated’ like going out of your way to violate the beliefs of others.” (twitter: @Education4Libs)
  • He was required to train his family (his employees) on anti-discrimination law and practice, which included instructing his Christian family that their religious liberties, rights of conscience, and right to free expression must give way to the demands of the state legislature (As Justice Kennedy said: “He has to tell them that a state anti-discrimination law overrode their religious beliefs”)

Craig and Mullins believe Phillips should have no rights whatsoever to religion or conscience or speech once he opens his door for business, and their ACLU lawyer, David Cole, made the analogy to African-Americans during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era a big part of their discrimination case, as it does in all cases of discrimination (including the Obergefell case). As Cole asked the justices of the Supreme Court: “What if, for example, someone’s religious principles prohibited interracial marriages? Should that individual be allowed to deny services to an interracial wedding?

Every decent human being, of course, would answer: “Of course not!”  That would be a no-brainer, and should be a no-brainer for the Court.

Here’s why the ACLU’s argument is frivolous and not a legitimate one in this particular case:

  1. No religion practiced in America — indeed, no world religion — has ever banned interracial marriage. That some American Christians opposed interracial marriage is of no consequence. No one assumes that every position held by any member of a religion means that the religion holds that position.
  2. If opposition to same-sex marriage is not a legitimately held religious conviction, there is no such thing as a legitimately held religious position. Unlike opposition to interracial marriage, opposition to same-sex marriage has been the position of every religion in recorded history — as well as of every country and every American state until the 21st century.
  3. The Colorado baker made it clear to the gay couple — as acknowledged by the court — that he would be happy to bake and sell cakes to the homosexual couple any other time they wanted. Therefore, he is not discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation. He readily sells to people he knows to be homosexual. What he is unwilling to do is to participate in an event that he opposes for deeply-held and legitimate religious reasons. These fundamental religious beliefs, by the way, are nothing new and certainly not a surprise to the homosexual community. They have been at the core of almost every organized religion since the earliest days of human communities. Until, at the most, ten years ago, no one would have imagined that a person could be forced to provide goods or services for a same-sex wedding.
  4. If a baker refused on religious grounds to provide the wedding cake for a polygamous wedding, should the state force him to do so? If a baker refused to provide a cake to an atheist couple celebrating an abortion, should the state force him to do so?

As Dennis Prager commented: “In the name of tolerance, the left is eroding liberty in America.”

VII.  ADDITIONAL ISSUES

In discussing the case with friends and former students, and even strangers I happened to talk to as we were leaving the Supreme Court building, several questions were asked. I took note of some of them, and I thought I would include them as a way to start finishing up this article, with an attempt at answer.

QUESTION:  What did Chief Justice John Roberts likely mean, in the context of the case, when during oral arguments he said: “When the Court upheld same-sex marriage in Obergefell, it went out of its way to talk about ‘the decent and honorable people who may have opposing views’”?

ANSWER:  It could mean one of two things, at least.  First, he could have brought that language up simply to make the point that the decision not to bake a custom cake to celebrate the marriage of the same-sex couple was not discrimination on “identity” (discrimination against Craig and Mullins as homosexuals) but merely the reaction of a “good and decent person” who “opposes same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith.” (which were his words in the Obergefell, dissenting opinion). The majority opinion, after all, does recognize the rights of believers: “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”

Second, it could indicate that his opinion is that a religious exemption should be made for Phillips and those like him with respect to the CADA (and other state anti-discrimination laws) because of what the Obergefell opinion recognized with respect to the divine precepts of religion and that decent and honorable people firmly adhere to such teachings. Phillips should not be compelled to speak or express a viewpoint that conflicts with his religious beliefs.

During oral arguments, Justice Kennedy said: “Tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.”  Tying together this statement with the comments in the Obergefell case about “the decent and honorable people who may have opposing views” (that is, believing that marriage is between a man and a woman), it may be that Kennedy holds a deeply-held belief that a tolerant society must leave room for good-faith dissent based on religious principles, especially when religious liberty is expressly protected and encouraged in our Bill of Rights. It may signal that Kennedy may side with the conservative justices.

QUESTION:  What harm would likely come from allowing a baker like Jack Phillips (and Masterpiece Cakeshop) to decline to bake custom wedding cakes for same-sex couples. That is, what harm in the marketplace would likely result should Phillips be permitted a religious exemption from Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Law (CADA)?

ANSWER:  There are well over 100 bakeries in the Denver area. The likelihood that any harm will result to same-sex couples in their search for a wedding cake is very little to none at all. The solution to allow Phillips the exemption under the CADA is logical, would allow the law to meet a “Strict Scrutiny” standard of review (for constitutionality), and is in line with what the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is already doing – carving out certain exemptions. It is also the solution that honors another fundamental principle upon which our country was founded – a free market economy.  Allowing Phillips and others similarly-situated to step out of the marketplace with respect to certain goods and services creates a market opportunity for another vendor. Let the marketplace – the free market – play out!  And it will!

QUESTION:   Wondering what would have happened if the cake maker had simply said he was booked up solid and wouldn’t be able to get it made. End of story. Find another bakery shop. Why such a big fuss?

Being in the welding business for 30 years I have seen jobs I didn’t want to do and didn’t!  You can’t force me to do a job I don’t want to do nor should a baker be made to make a cake he doesn’t want to make. This whole mess makes no sense to me.

ANSWER:   Then laws would remain in place that target those with deeply-held religious beliefs for discrimination but allow exceptions for other groups to decline services (to discriminate) based on their deeply-held views.  At some point, there would be another Phillip.  Same law; different Christian.

QUESTION:  When the couple found another good baker to make their cake the very next day, why didn’t they just drop it? Why did they go ahead and file suit? Why did they insist on having Masterpiece Cakeshop driven out of business by the state of Colorado? And why did they have members of their community flood Phillips and his family with death threats?! When he lost his cake business, neither he nor his family, or supporters, made death threats on the gay couple?

ANSWER:  One view of the case, as some people see it, is that Jack Phillips discriminated against gay/lesbian couples and no one should be made to feel less than dignified. As Justice Kagan pointed out during oral arguments: “LGBT people have been humiliated, disrespected, and treated uncivilly.”  In this era where gays and lesbians are rapidly seeking equality rights, challenging Phillips’ decision not to bake a custom cake for them on religious grounds would seem like another step forward in trying to establish total equality and in removing obstacles that might stand in the way. Religion, of course, always stands in the way of progressive and unnatural social change.  Of course, what the couple refuses to acknowledge is that Jack had a religious foundation for that discrimination.  And what the couple also refuses to acknowledge is that when Jack explained his position and politely referred them to another excellent baker, they chose to persecute him in court and in his business rather than show tolerance for his wish to honor his religion.

The other view of the case is that the couple is intolerant of Christians. Rather than respect the dictates of his conscience (they are, after all, fully aware of the Biblical teachings on homosexuality), they chose to punish him for it. Unlike Phillips, they showed intolerance without any religious belief system (free exercise). They were simply motivated by the notion that they shouldn’t have been discriminated against. (By the way, the couple filed their discrimination claim against Phillips even before Colorado recognized same-sex marriage, so the question is; What did he actually discriminate against, legally?). I’m not taking one side over the other in this post. I’m merely pointing out what both sides see. But I do notice, by the nature of some of the questions that I’m getting, that the right of conscience (perhaps the most important of our God-Given rights and the one most valued by our founding generations) is apparently the one most under-appreciated and the one most willing to surrender.

QUESTION:  Is it legitimate to compare the plight to overcome same-sex discrimination to the plight to overcome racial discrimination?

ANSWER:  Over-coming same-sex discrimination is not the same as the black Civil rights movement, and the conservative justices acknowledged that. Discrimination on the basis of a dark skin color is discrimination based on a stereotype that arose hundreds of years ago and was continued in this country through its years of slavery and into the Reconstruction era. The discrimination that continued into the Jim Crow era and into the Civil Rights era was the worst kind of discrimination because the malicious and demeaning treatment of persons of the African race was based no longer on the stereotype but rather on the color of their skin, a biological feature that they happened to be born with and were incapable of changing. It’s like treating a midget like less of a dignified human being even though he or she had no control of the defect that resulted in the shorter statute. But the difference between the plight of African-Americans and homosexuals is that since the beginning of organized religion (5000 – 6000 years ago, going back to the laws handed down from God in the Old Testament), the God who created us has taught directly, through scripture, that only a man and a woman can marry and become joined as one. Anyone who has an unshakable and deep faith understands that he or she cannot cherry pick the laws handed down by God. One can’t look at the Ten Commandments and conclude that God only really commands us not to kill. A woman can’t accept the Commandment that says Thou Shalt Not Kill but then rationalize that it is OK to terminate the 4-month-old fetus growing inside her. For those who genuinely, deeply, unquestionably believe God handed down his laws and his rules in order to guide his people to a righteous life and to righteous communities, they believe lock, stock, and barrel in what God commanded through His prophets. And so, Justice Kennedy was genuine and reflective of the American people and the American experience when he wrote in Obergefell that belief in marriage as the union of husband and wife is held “in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.”  But there has been no religious tenet that taught people here in the United States to hate and demean African-Americans. Society did that. Keeping old stereotypes alive did that.  And so, the plight to over-come same-sex discrimination cannot be equated to the black Civil rights movement because there will always be those who, in good faith, and because of a sincere belief in religious doctrines, cannot accept same-sex marriages. It does not mean that they think any less of the individual, the homosexual or the lesbian, or don’t believe they should be treated fairly and with dignity; it just means that when it comes to the institution of marriage (maybe even the term “marriage”), they have a deeply-held view as to which kind are truly legitimate.

QUESTION:  Why didn’t Jack Phillips just bake the cake in order to spare his bakery and his fellow employees?

ANSWER:  Phillips explains: “It has nothing to do with David and Charlie, it has everything to do with my faith in Jesus Christ and my following the teachings of the Bible….  I have been asked if I honestly hold those convictions, which I do. I have been asked if my actions, my position, really reflect a Christian approach to life?  In situations, I ask myself: ‘What would Jesus do?’  If Jesus were faced with the same situation, this was my answer: ‘Jesus was a carpenter.  I believe he wouldn’t have made a bed for their wedding. He would have never condoned something that he was against. He wouldn’t have acted in direct contradiction to the Bible’s teachings while at the same time instructing others to follow those teachings. But I believe he would have been kind and loving to them just the same.”

QUESTION:  Why didn’t Craig and Mullins just go to a bakery that wants the business of the LGBT community?

ANSWER:  The answer should be that they shouldn’t have to research to find a such a bakery. And again, they shouldn’t have to suffer the indignation of being refused service. But two groups of individuals, the homosexual couple looking to celebrate their same-sex marriage and the Christian, looking to adhere to the religious tenets that bind him to his God and his religion, have competing interests and each has rights. As General Francisco, counsel for the United States, commented during oral arguments: “I agree that there are dignity interests at stake here, and I would not minimize the dignity interests to Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins one bit, but there are dignity interests on the other side here too.” And as Justice Kennedy said: “Tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual.” Neither tolerance nor respect was shown when it came to Jack Phillips’ religious beliefs yet Phillips was expected to show tolerance for a same-sex wedding celebration that conflicts in a very real way with his religious beliefs, just because the same-sex couple happens to be mentioned in a statute and identified as a protected class of patrons.

Mullins and Craig have endured the initial pain and humiliation of being turned away, of being discriminated against, while Phillips has lost most of his livelihood because of religious persecution. He lost 40% of his income by not being able to provide wedding cakes. As Craig explains: “I don’t feel like we asked him for a piece of art,” yet that is exactly what they asked for. Art doesn’t necessarily take the form of a Rodin or a Michelangelo.  A rainbow-layered cake with two men on top is an expressive work of cake art that conveys the specific message that they are celebrating their marriage not only as two men but also celebrating their pride in being gay.

VIII.  A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE CASE

Respected author and distinguished fellow with The Heritage Foundation, Ryan T. Anderson, believes this case should have never ended up at the Supreme Court. He believes that course could have easily been avoided. Of course, we can assume that the LGBT community and the LGBT lobby WANTED the case to be heard as a discrimination case.

The question he asks is whether the Colorado Civil Rights Commission improperly, or recklessly, interpreted the law.

In his article, “The Christian Baker Need Not Have Ended Up at the Supreme Court,” Anderson asserts that not all disagreements over marriage are “discrimination” in the legal sense and require a legal remedy. He believes this to be an accurate statement based on, of all things, the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion.

       “Phillips argued that making him create a cake that celebrates a same-sex wedding would violate his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, by forcing him to express a message and to celebrate an event, that runs against his beliefs. If the Court agrees, it will bar Colorado and other states from applying antidiscrimination statutes in such a way.

        But Colorado should never have applied its statute this way to begin with. Indeed, states can avoid First Amendment showdowns by refusing to view support for traditional marriage as ‘discrimination.’

        Part of the problem is that Colorado misunderstood the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Colorado claims that the Court held “opposition to same-sex marriage” to be “tantamount to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”  In fact, as Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out during the Masterpiece oral arguments, the Court in Obergefell noted that belief in marriage as the union of husband and wife is held ‘in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.’ The Court stated in its majority opinion that ‘many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here.’”

Anderson argues that since the Supreme Court would not disparage well-meaning people who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong based on honorable religious and philosophical grounds, the state of Colorado (and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission) should not have either.

Anderson continues:

      “Sexual-orientation antidiscrimination laws should serve as shields, not swords. They are meant to shield people from unjust discrimination that might prevent them from flourishing in society. They aren’t supposed to be swords used to punish people for acting on their reasonable beliefs.

       You can see this when considering the history of Colorado’s law. Within a two-year span, Colorado citizens voted to define marriage as the union of husband and wife and to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Many other states, too, simultaneously enacted sexual-orientation nondiscrimination policies while insisting that the traditional understanding of marriage is not discriminatory.”

Justice Samuel Alito pointed to this reality during oral arguments. As pointed out earlier, at the time that Jack Phillips declined to bake a same-sex wedding cake, Colorado wouldn’t issue same-sex marriage licenses (let alone even recognize one already issued somewhere else. [Couldn’t the state of Colorado itself have been guilty under the anti-discrimination statute of discrimination?]  Let the situation that existed back in July 2012 in Colorado sink in……  A same-sex couple did not have the right to get married in Colorado or have a marriage issued elsewhere recognized in the state. And that’s exactly what the reality was for Charlie Craig and David Mullins. Although residents of Colorado, they could not get married there so they went to Massachusetts. When they returned home to celebrate with family and friends, they were still unable to have their marriage recognized. Yet when they walked in the Masterpiece Cakeshop, all of a sudden, they expected that its owner, a resident and businessman in Colorado, should recognize their relationship as a marriage?  How are state citizens expected to recognize a marriage that the State itself refuses to legally recognize?  When Phillips, the baker said he would not bake a cake recognizing same-sex marriage, he may have done so based on his religious beliefs but he could have easily done so based on the law articulated in the state’s constitution. But because he gave the first reason, Colorado condemned him for discrimination and the couple sued.  Justice Alito found the situation hard to make sense of.  As he commented: “So if Craig and Mullins had gone to a state office and said we want a marriage license, they would not have been accommodated….   And yet when he goes to this bake shop and he says I want a wedding cake, and the baker says, ‘No, I won’t do it,’ in part because same-sex marriage was not allowed in Colorado at the time, he’s created a grave wrong.  How does that all that fit together?”

Colorado didn’t have to declare Phillips to be guilty of discrimination and should not have done so.

Anderson explains:

      “We apply other anti-discrimination statutes in a more fair and nuanced way. Bans on religion-based discrimination are not used to force secular organizations to violate their beliefs. Religious antidiscrimination policies have not been used, for example, to force Planned Parenthood to hire pro-life Catholics. And the state of Colorado said it wasn’t religious discrimination when three different bakeries refused to bake cakes with religious anti-gay messages. Religion antidiscrimination laws simply do not seek to impose religious orthodoxy on the country.

       But sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) antidiscrimination policies are used to impose sexual orthodoxy (conformity). They’re used to try to force Catholic schools to employ people who undermine their sexual values and to coerce Evangelical bakers to lend their artistic talents to messages about marriage with which they disagree. SOGI laws are used to punish people of good will who simply seek the freedom to lead their lives in accordance with their beliefs about human sexuality.”

During oral arguments, swing-Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to reject the ACLU’s key argument that “opposition to same-sex marriage is discrimination against people who identify as gay.” He understood Phillips’ position. He understood that Phillips genuinely has no animus against gay people; He just doesn’t believe they can be united in marriage because of the core tenets of his faith. “It’s not their identity,” Kennedy explained to his fellow justices. “It’s what they’re doing.”

       “United States has reached compromises on similarly difficult moral and cultural issues before. Following Roe v. Wade, Americans refused to use sex antidiscrimination law as a sword to punish pro-lifers. In 1993, in Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, the Supreme Court resolutely rejected the argument that pro-lifers are inherently discriminatory: ‘Whatever one thinks of abortion, it cannot be denied that there are common and respectable reasons for opposing it, other than hatred of, or condescension toward (or indeed any view at all concerning), women.”

The same is true when it comes to marriage as the union of husband and wife: There are common and respectable reasons for supporting it that have nothing to do with hatred or condescension. But this is not true when it comes to opposition to interracial marriage — and this is where the analogies to racism break down. When the Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage, it did NOT say that opposition to interracial marriage was based on ‘decent and honorable premises’ and held ‘in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.’ It did not say it, because it could not say it.

Opposition to interracial marriage is discrimination based on the identity of the individual, on the immutable characteristic of race and skin color.  It was intellectual and judicial dishonesty to agree with the petitioners (gay couple, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, and other same-sex couples) in the Obergefell case that their plight for marriage equality was akin to those seeking the right to marry as an inter-racial couple.

        “Opposition to interracial marriage developed as one aspect of a larger system of racism and white supremacy, as part of an effort to hold a race of people in a condition of economic and political inferiority and servitude. It was based on the idea that contact with African Americans on an equal plane is wrong.

        That idea, and its premise of the supposed inferiority of African Americans, is the essence of bigotry. Bakers who declined to bake cakes for interracial weddings also declined to treat African Americans equally in a host of circumstances. Racists did not simply object to interracial marriage; they objected to contact with African Americans on an equal footing.

         By contrast, marriage as the union of husband and wife has been a universal human practice until just recently, regardless of views about sexual orientation. This vision of marriage is based on the capacity that a man and a woman possess to unite as one-flesh, create new life, and unite that new life with both a mother and a father. Whether ultimately sound or not, this view of marriage is reasonable, based on decent and honorable premises, and disparaging of no one.

        A lack of disparagement also explains why bakers like Jack Phillips have been serving gay customers faithfully for years.

        Sparing people such as Phillips from the sword does not undermine the valid purposes of antidiscrimination law — eliminating the public effects of anti-gay bigotry — because support for conjugal marriage isn’t anti-gay. Protecting freedom here sends no message about the supposed inferiority of those identifying as gay; it sends no message about sexual orientation at all.  It does say that citizens who support the historic understanding of sex and marriage are not bigots. It ensures their equal social status and opportunities. It protects their businesses, livelihoods, and professional vocations. And it benefits the rest of society by allowing these citizens to continue offering their services, especially social services, charities, and schools.”

During oral arguments, Chief Justice Roberts asked the solicitor general of Colorado how the state would apply its antidiscrimination law to the particular case of a pro-bono Catholic legal organization serving the poor.  He asked what its fate would be under the law if it withheld services for same-sex couples that they would provide for husbands and wives.  “So Catholic Legal Services would be put to the choice of either not providing any pro-bono legal services or providing those services in connection with the same-sex marriage?” The Solicitor General replied: “I think the answer is yes, your honor.”

Anderson concluded in his article with these thoughts:

        “Catholic Legal Services, Catholic Charities, Catholic adoption agencies — and the faith-based social services of any religion that believes we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other — are at stake. A line of questioning on the comparisons to interracial marriage brought up the case of Bob Jones University, a school that lost its nonprofit tax status because it prohibited interracial dating and marriage. But do we really want to live in a country where acting on a belief about marriage that people have held throughout all of recorded history — that it’s a union of male and female — is treated as the functional and legal equivalent of racism?

        All of us should work to prevent such an outcome. Which is why Phillips need not have ended up in court. We must refuse to use antidiscrimination laws as swords to impose sexual orthodoxy on the nation. As Americans continue to disagree about sex, we must refuse to weaponize the redefinition of marriage. Even Justice Kennedy seemed alert to this this in oral arguments for Masterpiece. ‘Tolerance is essential in a free society,’ he said. But, he continued, ‘It seems to me that the state in its position here has neither been tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.’

        Anti-gay bigotry exists and should be condemned. But support for marriage as the union of husband and wife isn’t anti-gay. Just as we’ve combatted sexism without treating pro-life medicine as sexist, we can combat anti-gay bigotry without treating Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Evangelicals, and Latter-day Saints as bigots.

         Not every disagreement is discrimination. And our law shouldn’t say otherwise.”

[Reference:  Ryan T. Anderson, “The Christian Baker Need Not Have Ended Up at the Supreme Court”]

IX.  CONCLUSION

Matt Walsh wrote in a DailyWire article (“The Gay Couple In The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Are Vindictive Bullies, Not Victims”) on the day of oral arguments:

      The First Amendment is on trial, not Jack Phillips. If Phillips loses, free speech is effectively finished in this country. If a Christian business owner can be forced by the state to create something that goes against his deeply held religious beliefs — beliefs shared by a majority of the world, by the way — then what function does the First Amendment really serve?

      Phillips doesn’t need the First Amendment when he makes a birthday cake. He doesn’t need it when he cooks a batch of brownies. He doesn’t need it when he’s doing innocuous things that no one — not even the LGBT lobby — could possibly find offensive or upsetting. He needs it precisely when he’s faced with the dilemma that Mullins and Craig presented. He needs it when he makes a decision, grounded in his religious convictions, which will be upsetting to a powerful group like the LGBT lobby. If he doesn’t have it then, he doesn’t have it at all.

      If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the gay lobby, what next?  If gays have a mystical right to force their fellow citizens to participate in their gay weddings, where does that right end? I’ll tell you: it doesn’t. If Phillips goes down, the churches will be next. And why not? If we’ve just established that gays are a special and superior class of human beings, and their desire for a cake decorated a particular way now must supersede everyone else’s First Amendment rights, why should the churches be exempt? Indeed, if Phillips doesn’t have the right to withhold his cake, why should the local priest have the right to withhold his church? He doesn’t, in that case. He won’t. Mark my words.

       Phillips is not claiming any special rights. He is simply saying that he, like anyone, is entitled to use his artistic abilities in a way consistent with his personal and religious convictions. He doesn’t want to advance a message he doesn’t believe. It is his fundamental human right — not his Christian right, or his baker’s right, or any other kind of right — to refrain. It is his First Amendment right.

       When First Amendment rights are pitted against LGBT rights, First Amendment rights should always win.

      Mullins and Craig, on the other hand, are saying that a special exception must be made for them, specifically, because they’re gay. Notice how nobody is challenging (for now) Phillips’ right to continue turning down Halloween cakes and divorce cakes and lewd bachelorette party cakes, etc. Mullins and Craig are arguing that their situation is different because they’re gay. Whereas a man’s love for Halloween does not entitle him to special privileges and protections, a man’s sexual attraction to other men does. That’s the argument. It’s deranged, arbitrary, and un-American.

      Let’s be clear about the real victim in this situation. Phillips — the decent, hardworking Christian business owner, who employed members of his community and provided a valuable service — is the victim. He did not seek out this notoriety. He did not want to be at the center of a national controversy. He just wanted to make his cakes and live his life. He was a decent, normal man, living a decent, normal, inconspicuous life. Until Mullins and Craig walked in the door. Their behavior is this case has been truly despicable.

      There were many bakeries they could have chosen. They just so happened to walk into the one bakery run by an openly devout Christian, asking for a flamboyantly decorated cake for their impending gay wedding. Was this just a coincidence? Did these two gay men accidentally stumble into the one bakery in Colorado that would refuse to make their cake?

      Well, if that’s the case, then their response to Phillips can only be described as psychotic. If all they wanted was a cake, and their request was completely innocent, and they truly did not expect to be turned away, then their behavior over the following five years is inexplicable and deranged to an unbelievable extreme. They have, by this version of events, spent half a decade angrily exacting revenge on a man because he didn’t want to put gay-themed decorations on a dessert pastry. They have put their whole life on hold to pursue legal penalties against the guy who politely declined to adorn a cake with a rainbow and two plastic grooms. It’s vengeful and spiteful to an unfathomable degree. These are possibly the pettiest human beings to have ever walked the face of the Earth.

     OR, this was all calculated. They sought out Jack Phillips hoping to get exactly the response he gave them, and then they proceeded to use him as a pawn to advance their political agenda and destroy the rights of Christians in America. They are activists parading themselves around as an aggrieved and innocent married couple. I think this is the more accurate characterization. And it is entirely in keeping with how the gay lobby usually operates.

The LGBT community and the LGBT advocacy Left believes that religious freedom is a true threat to their “so-called” rights and it makes sense that they need to destroy the traditional notion that an individual has the right and the freedom in this country to exercise his or her religious beliefs outside of his or her home or church and even into the public square and marketplace. We all know that tolerance has never operated in both directions in the LGBT community.

Ben Shapiro wrote: “Freedom lives in the spaces where we acknowledge that we have no right to another’s labor or approval.” Freedom also lives in those spaces where we have no right to coerce one’s conscience, to silence one’s speech, or to require viewpoint compulsion. “Tyranny grows when we refuse to acknowledge those spaces.”

Shapiro makes a dire prediction depending on the outcome of this case.  “If Masterpiece Cakeshop goes the wrong way, the country will only grow more polarized. That’s because religious people across America will be compelled to leave states in which anti-religious anti-discrimination regulations are promulgated, and move instead to red states. Red states will grow redder; blue states will grow bluer. The divide throughout the country will grow. And religious observance — and freedom of speech — will continue to wither on the vine.”

If the Court renders an “opinion” that upholds the decisions of the lower courts and requires that Christians refrain from their deeply-held beliefs when it comes to products and services in the marketplace, then we have an America without freedom of speech or the free exercise of religion. Our once precious “Freedom of Religion,” enshrined in the very first guarantee listed in the Bill of Rights, will be whittled away to mean only that individuals have the right to exercise their religion only while confined to their home and to their place of worship — that’s all. And our absolute essential “Right of Free Speech,” the very cornerstone of a free society and the most essential of tools to alert one another to abuses of government, will mean nothing more than speech that the government allows. We all know that if we are compelled by government to violate our conscience, and particularly the religious values that shape our lives and as we understand will further our communion with our Creator, and set us up for life eternal, then we live a life burdened by that conscience. America was founded on the very freedom to prevent that from happening. The Pilgrims and the Puritans settled Massachusetts on that very ideal.

Jack Phillips petitioned the Supreme Court for validation of our nation’s founding principles. He believes that in America, a man like himself has the right to freely practice his religion (Free Exercise), the right to have his conscience shaped by his beliefs (the Right of Conscience), the right to live his life according to the dictates of his conscience, and the right to be free from government-compelled speech (Free Speech). He believes these rights are the cornerstone of our liberties. And he wants the Supreme Court to acknowledge and remind us – all of us – of this. The question is, will the Supreme Court agree with his vision of America.

Matt Walsh wrote: “Jack Phillips is an innocent man fighting for his right to live and work in peace, and in accordance with his faith. May his cause prevail, for his sake and ours.”

- 2018 (new hair styke, March 8, 2018)

 

References:

Ryan T. Anderson, “The Christian Baker Need Not Have Ended Up at the Supreme Court,” National Review, Dec. 7, 2017.  Referenced at:  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/454423/christian-bakers-refuse-bake-gay-wedding-cake-are-not-bigots   [Ryan T. Anderson is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and the co-author of Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination]

Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Petition for Certiorari –  http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/16-111-cert-petition.pdf

Transcript of Oral Arguments, Supreme Court –   https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2017/16-111_f314.pdf

Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015) –  https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/576/14-556/opinion3.html

Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), dissenting opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts –  https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/576/14-556/dissent4.html

Jack Phillips, “Here’s Why I Can’t Custom-Design Cakes for Same-Sex “Weddings, USA Today, Dec. 4, 2017.  Referenced at:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/12/04/supreme-court-masterpiece-why-jack-phillips-wont-custom-design-cakes-same-sex-weddings-column/917631001/

Dennis Prager, “Tolerance Now Means Government-Coerced Celebration,” Real Clear Politics, Dec. 17, 2013.  Referenced at:  https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/12/17/tolerance_now_means_government-coerced_celebration__120970.html

Robert Barnes, “The Spurned Gay Couple, the Colorado Baker and the Years Spent Waiting for the Supreme Court,” The Denver Post, Aug. 14, 2017.  Referenced at:  http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/14/colorado-gay-wedding-cake-case/

Emilie Kao, “4 Highlights from Christian Baker’s Wedding Cake Case at Supreme Court,” The Heritage Foundation, Dec. 6, 2017.  Referenced at:  http://www.heritage.org/religious-liberty/commentary/4-highlights-christian-bakers-wedding-cake-case-supreme-court

Jack Phillips video (In his own words) –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qssajSYRPGU

Stephen A. Miller and Leigh Ann Benson, “Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CCRC: A Difficult Balance for Justices,” The Legal Intelligencer,” Jan. 11, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://www.law.com/thelegalintelligencer/sites/thelegalintelligencer/2018/01/11/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-ccrv-a-difficult-balance-for-justices/?slreturn=20180123122736

Ben Shapiro, “One Of The Most Important Cases In Recent Supreme Court History Will Be Argued Tomorrow. Here’s What You Need To Know,” DailyWire, Dec. 4, 2017.  Referenced at:  https://www.dailywire.com/news/24267/one-most-important-cases-recent-supreme-court-ben-shapiro

Matt Walsh, “Walsh: The Gay Couple In The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Are Vindictive Bullies, Not Victims,” DailyWire, Dec. 5, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://www.dailywire.com/news/24333/walsh-gay-couple-masterpiece-cakeshop-case-are-matt-walsh

Adam Liptak, “Justices Sharply Divided in Gay Rights Case,” NY Times, Dec. 5, 2017.  Referenced at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/05/us/politics/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-cake.html

The Hypocrisy, and Unconstitutionality, of Affirmative Action Policies at Ivy League Universities

IVY LEAGUE - SAT score manipulations (by race)

by Diane Rufino, Nov. 22, 2017

As most of you may know, I take education very seriously. It is directly linked to the absolute right (fundamental right) to the pursuit of happiness, including the right to develop one’s talents and skills, and also to the absolute right of an individual to work and provide for oneself and one’s family. Education is a competition; the entire process is a competition. A child competes, through grades, first for the opportunity to take honors or higher-level courses. And then a teen competes, through grades, for a class ranking which is critical for application for the better colleges and universities. And then the graduating high school student competes, through credentials, for a spot at the college or university of choice. The better the student has competed in education, better the school he or she can get into. The better the college the student graduates from, the better the job he or she will get (and hence, better salary). This is how life works; this is how it has always worked.  It is fair because there is reason expectation involved and often those who achieve the most in education are the ones who worked the hardest, invested the most energy, or sacrificed the most. It is fair because it is absolutely color-blind and neutral to a whole host of factors. The system is, simply-put, a merit-based system.

A 2009 Princeton Study of ALL Ivy League schools and other leading universities, however, is revealed that the system of admissions is anything but fair and neutral. It is 100% based on race, which is unconstitutional, and 100% based on racial stereotypes, which is, in this day and time, audacious and outrageous. The Princeton Study revealed that at Harvard, for example, Asian-Americans had to score 140 points higher on their SAT’s than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics, and 450 points higher than African-Americans to have the same chance of being admitted.  The findings on “Admissions Preferences” above show a similar scheme of discrimination and disenfranchisement: When an African-American applies to a leading university, he/she has 240 points added to his/her SAT score. When a Hispanic student applies, he/she has 185 points added. And when an Asian-Americans apply, 50 points is SUBTRACTED from their scores.

If this scheme isn’t predicated on stereotypes, then I don’t know what is. Notice there are insulting stereotypes (invidious stereotypes), as with African-Americans, and there are complimentary ones, as with Asian-Americans, but both are wrong. I don’t know if we can say there is a stereotype yet regarding Hispanics. For the most part, the great influx of Hispanics into our country has been fairly recent and there may be a language barrier that is a legitimate factor to assume they cannot score as high as whites or Asians. But being a new arrival to the United States should not guarantee you a spot at a top university.

Race-based affirmative action is patently unfair. To give one group a benefit, another group suffers a detriment. A decision to affect a group of people based on race is racial at the least, racist most likely at its core, and patently unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (or implied in the 5th Amendment Due Process Clause). A decision based on race is offensive, just as it is when it is based on gender, eye color, physical stature, or genetic predisposition to cancer. These decisions are based on characteristics that are immutable – characteristics that one is born with and hence cannot change. We hear the phrase: “You just have to make due with what you’ve got.” We all have to “make due with what we’ve got.”  As a one-time egg and a one-time sperm that by true happenstance came together, there was no putting a request in with the big guy upstairs for a particular set of characteristics. Our lives are the consequence of Biology (and yes, its many miraculous systems).

As I look at the results of the Princeton Study, and the attention it is now getting, I’m becoming increasingly angered at the term “White Privilege.” How does that work when Blacks and Hispanics are automatically given a hefty handicap on their SAT scores, thereby allowing them to “meet requirements” for a spot at a prestigious university when whites have to sink or swim on the exact score they earn. It sounds like the most important door they must walk through to start a career and find ultimate success in their lives is the door that most clearly dispels that myth. The ones pushing the “white privilege” narrative just happen to be the ones benefiting from the reverse discrimination scheme.  Not only is it an annoying display of hypocrisy but it shows just how ignorant they are of what is really going on in society.

A lawsuit filed in 2014 (Students for Fair Representation, Inc. v. Harvard) accused Harvard University of having a cap on the number of Asian students – the percentage of Asians in Harvard’s student body had remained about 16% to 19% for two decades, even though the Asian-American population had more than doubled (and become a larger percentage as a minority group). In 2016, the Asian-American Coalition for Education filed a complaint with the US Department of Education against Yale University, where the Asian student population had remained between 13% to 16% for twenty years, and against Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, and Princeton. The AACE urged the DOE to investigate their admissions practices. Furthermore, the lawsuit cites the 2009 study by Princeton sociologists that concluded that while the average Asian-American applicant needed a much higher SAT score to be admitted (1460 SAT score), a white applicant with similar GPA and other qualifications only needed an SAT score of 1320, while Hispanic applicants only needed a score of 1190, and African-American applicant only needed a score of 1010.

For many years, Blacks and Hispanics have benefitted from affirmative action. Now it has come to light that in order to benefit these minority groups, another minority group, Asians, have been harmed. Herein lies a novel constitutional question for the Supreme Court.

In 2016, the Supreme Court handed down a decision regarding affirmative action in the case Fisher v. University of Texas. In that case, the same group, Students for Fair Representation, sued the University of Texas on behalf of a white applicant over its affirmative action admissions policies. The Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling, opined that affirmative action (for its aim in creating diversity in education) is one of the many factors that the school can use in its admissions policy, but must be used carefully and should be re-evaluated yearly, and then remanded the case back to the lower court with instructions to apply the high standard of strict scrutiny to the school’s race-conscious policy. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy explained: “Using race in the admissions process is acceptable if the program is narrowly tailored for the goal of greater diversity.”  The Harvard case is different because it focuses on affirmative action’s negative impact on a minority group and not on an individual. In fact, as several legal experts have cited, Justice Samuel Alito Jr. in his dissenting opinion in the Fisher decision, expressly pointed out (and advised?) that that Texas plan discriminated against Asian-Americans, and therefore could be a future theme to be pursued by opponents of affirmative action.

Alan Dershowitz, the famed Harvard law professor who successfully argued the Klaus von Bulow case before the Supreme Court and who was part of OJ Simpson’s “Dream Team” (defense team), echoed that same view following the Fisher decision. As he said: “The idea of discriminating against Asians in order to make room for other minorities doesn’t seem right as a matter of principle.”

Consider the case of Asian Jia, an Asian-American high school student from New Jersey who applied to 14 universities, including Harvard, Duke, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, Princeton, Columbia, Rutgers (his safety school), New York University, Georgetown, and the University of Pennsylvania. His SAT score was 2340 out of 2400, his GPA was 4.42 and he took 11 Advanced Placement (AP) courses. In addition to playing tennis, participating in the debate team and playing violin in the state orchestra, he did advocacy work for an Asian-American student group. He expected he had a pretty good shot at all the schools he applied to. However, he was rejected from Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania (my alma-mater). Learning about the affirmative action policies at these schools, including the statistics asserted in the lawsuit, has left Jia feeling jaded. “I felt that the whole concept of meritocracy — which America likes to say it exercises all the time — has been defeated in my mind,” he said.

Luckily, the US Justice Department is now getting involved.  It sent a letter to Harvard University, dated November 17, advising it to turn over a variety of records that it had requested in September, including applications for admission and evaluations of students, by race. If Harvard continues to stall or refused to turn its records over, the DOJ has threatened to file suit to obtain those records. The federal government also potentially has the ability to influence university admissions policies by withholding federal funds under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids racial discrimination in programs that receive federal money.

Interestingly, the student group, Students for Fair Representation, a conservative-leaning nonprofit based in Virginia, has filed similar suits against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Texas at Austin, asserting that white students are at a disadvantage at those colleges because of their admissions policies.

Steve Kurtz of Fox News posed this important question: “Many Americans of all types have serious moral problems with programs that judge people by their race. It’s not only an undesirable way to go about things, it also creates perverse incentives. When groups that underperform are, in essence, rewarded, while groups that outperform are punished, how will things change for the better?”  [“Is Harvard Racist? If You’re Asian-American, Their Admissions Policies Just Might Be,” Oct. 13, 2017]

In a country so focused on the very letter of the term Equal Protection, it is amazing to find that we very rarely live up to that true promise.

 

References:

Maxim Lott, “Rejected Asian Students Sue Harvard Over Admissions That Favor Other Minorities,” FOX News, Nov. 18, 2014.  Referenced at:  http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/11/18/rejected-asian-students-sue-harvard-over-admissions-that-favor-other-minorities.html

Anemonia Hartocollis and Stephanie Saul, “Affirmative Action Battle Has a New Focus: Asian-Americans,” NY Times, Aug. 2, 2017.  Referenced at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/us/affirmative-action-battle-has-a-new-focus-asian-americans.html

Collin Binkley, “Feds Threaten to Sue Harvard to Obtain Admissions Records,” FOX News, Nov. 21, 2017.  Referenced at:  http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/11/21/feds-threaten-to-sue-harvard-to-obtain-admissions-records.html

 

Can NC Enforce its Voter ID Law? What are its Options in Light of the Politically-Motivated 4th Circuit Decision?

voter-id-some-restrictions-may-apply     by Diane Rufino, Oct. 7, 2016

Elections and the Collusion of Corruption: The Engineering of Political and Government Tyranny. Its tools are voter fraud and massive collusion of political power.

INTRODUCTION –

The current generation of Americans is a sad generation. An unfortunate generation. They are far removed from the days when the country struggled with its rich heritage – a heritage forged in England with the 600-year struggle for independence from an over-bearing King. When an overbearing King George III and British Parliament evidenced a similar design to oppress the colonies and deny its people the rights and liberties that had been asserted time and time, the colonies revolted, took up arms, and fought successfully for their independence. The promise of a new land truly dedicated to individual liberty together with a long history strongly suggesting that such liberty is always short-lived, motivated our Founding Fathers to do something extraordinary. They drafted a form of government to overcome the limitations and shortfalls of Great Britain and in that system, they embedded many levels of checks and balances.

One of those checks and balances is the doctrine of Separation of Powers, a doctrine articulated by Montesquieu in his book The Spirit of Laws (L’esprit des Lois”), in which he explains society’s need for government and the need for protections in that government to prevent abuse. The Separation of Powers doctrine is based on the natural tendency of government to concentrate power; the concentration of all political power – legislative, executive, judicial – in the hands of one man, a few men, or even a government entity is total tyranny. Such a man, group of men, or government entity with such a monopoly over the scope of government power is the most dangerous of all. One only needs to look at Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin, and other totalitarian rulers. Now, if government power is divided among its branches with the understanding that each branch will jealously guard its sphere of power, then power should remain separated and contained. After all, one branch that tries to assume more power has to misappropriate it from another branch. This doctrine is most powerful when there is a Constitution which legally limits power to all branches, which supposedly is what our system provides. The caveat is and what has always been is that the Constitution must be respected.

The second check and balance is the most powerful of all in our American system – our system of Federalism. Our Founders divided government power between two powerful governing entities (sovereigns) – the States (considered to be the most powerful on most objects of government) and the federal government (only powerful on the limited areas listed in the US Constitution). What makes this design element so unique and so essential to the maintenance of a limited government is that it uses each powerful sovereign to keep the other in check. Sovereign against Sovereign; Titan against Titan (to invoke an analogy in Greek mythology). Again, each sovereign is supreme over its area of responsibility. The belief was that each sovereign (each Titan) would forever jealously guard its sphere of responsibility. The government’s powers are expressly delegated in the Constitution. All other areas are reserved to the states, as the American people were promised first in the Articles of Confederation (Section II, immediately following the declaration that the name of the new American Union would be the United States of America, which was Section I) and currently in the Tenth Amendment. The US Constitution has never been amended to take any of the States’ reserved powers away from them, including during and after the infamous War of Northern Aggression. For clarity on the States’ reserved powers, one needs only to look at Federalist No. 45, written by James Madison, the author of the Constitution and the man who attended every day of the Constitutional Convention, documenting the discussions and debates and capturing the collective understanding of the terms and provisions of the document as understood by all of the States (through their delegates) at that historic gathering. Federalist No. 45 goes into detail about the general character of this separation of sovereign power. Federalism is the last in our government’s series of Checks and Balances. (Maybe most important!)

The checks and balances were always intended to limit government and prevent the type of government abuse that has eroded a free society in the societies of the past. The more limited a government is, the greater its people can exercise their rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

Checks and balances, to put it another way, were included in our form of government in order to prevent a monopoly over the meaning, purpose, and scope of government.

Going back to my first paragraph, our current generation is far removed from the struggles to prevent the government itself – just the powers in Washington DC – from consolidating its powers in order to affect such a monopoly. The monopoly was actually perfected the year the Supreme Court decided for itself that its branch had far more power than originally granted in Article III of the US Constitution. That was the case of Marbury v. Madison (1803). Its implications were noted by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and others and warnings went out. True and honest students of history, government, and law know of these warnings, and appreciate them. But while the federal monopoly had been established, it was not clear whether or how it would be used to grow the government in DC. The biggest fear, as most realized at the time, was the government monopoly’s unique ability to destroy federalism, the critical design feature of our American government. It was only in very recent years that the tyranny threatened by this monopoly has finally become a reality. Because our current generation was not lucky enough to enjoy the freedom that many of us enjoyed many years ago, they cannot recognize what is becoming of their lives and their existence in the United States. They don’t know what has already been lost and they have no idea of what they will continue to lose.

Encroachments on State governing power began with the Lincoln administration (with his many violations of the Constitution and then with his decision to deny them their sovereign right of self-determination with secession) and continued in the years following Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The federal government, after first declaring that they never seceded because they never had the right to do so and hence were merely “rebellious states” which were still part of the Union, then suddenly announced that they had to “re-apply” to become part of the Union again. The government first put them under military rule and then required that every Southern state meet certain punishing requirements in order to be “admitted back into the Union,” including submitting new state constitutions (asserting that they have given up their right to secede, that their primary allegiance is to the federal government and its laws, and that they adopt both the 13th and 14th amendments. Should any Southern state not meet these conditions, they would continue to live under the laws of a Congress that included only northern representatives and no representatives of that states. In other words, they would be subject to the most extreme form of tyranny. “No taxation without representation” would be nothing compared to the existence the Southern states would have to endure. And so, defeated and humiliated, dominated and subjugated, the Southern states complied. The federal government would fundamentally change its position vis-à-vis the States and sadly, with respect to the American people themselves. Many historians would declare that the government, transformed as a result of Lincoln’s total consumption of government power and continued during Reconstruction, became an illegal, illegitimate government at that moment. Many historians would also point out that the 14th amendment was not legally proposed and ratified by the States, as required by the very terms of Article V of the Constitution.

The 14th Amendment would be the great tool used by the federal government, and particularly by the Supreme Court and progressives, to strip power from the States and greater perfect the monopoly of power in the federal government.

The stripping of sovereign power from the States and the further erosion of federalism (ie, the further consolidation of power in the federal government) would continue at the turn of the 20th century and then into the years we fought WWII. 1913 was a bad year for States’ rights (the 17th amendment took selection of Senators from the States as political entities with sovereign interests) and for the right of individuals over their earnings and investments (the federal income tax was enacted: the 16th amendment). It was, however, a great year for government, first for the power to plunder the wealth of its citizens (16th amendment) and for the power to control the value of money and to print it at will (the creation of the Federal Reserve).

During the 1960’s, there was another great assault on the States with the government declaring that schools and other public entities are forbidden to allow prayer in their functions. Religion must be stripped from the public domain and States are powerless to protect such an exercise. And during the 1970’s, the government asserted itself in the public school building by requiring that school districts be intentionally designed and created to meet racial quotas. The government ushered in the era of busing.

Through its laws – namely the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and in particular, certain provisions of each (such as Title 4 and Title 5 of the Voting Rights Act), the federal government continues to demand that the States (the Southern states and some districts of other states) forfeit their sovereign rights over traditional and historically-recognized state matters (ie, “tenth amendment reserved powers”) so that the government can weigh in on them and then tell the States what it will “allow them to do.”

This past week, thanks to WikiLeaks, we have learned the extent of the Democratic Party’s connections to the US Justice Department and to the massive liberal media. We have seen where the moderators in charge of the presidential debates, including the debates during the primary season, have been instructed closely by the Democratic Party machinery as to what questions to ask the GOP candidates and then Trump in particular. We have seen the inherent bias in those debates. We have seen the even more dubious bias in the media, which everyone knows influences the voters who have little interest or time in doing research for themselves. We have seen how the Party has given assurances to Wall Street and foreign leaders/ foreign entities to pursue certain policies advantageous to them while deceiving the American people that just the opposite will be done. We can only imagine where our tax dollars and our valuable resources will be diverted to and for what purposes. We have read emails which show that a certain Democratic presidential candidate has been given a “pass” by the US Department of Justice, for one, by not performing a proper investigation, as would be required of anyone else who breached national security protocol. We have seen that the Democratic Party and its associates have control over the ballot systems which will be used by most precincts in the US.

What these revelations show is that there is a massive COLLUSION OF CORRUPTION which one goal in mind – to dupe the American people and to ensure that a political party gains control of the White House. We all know that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to lead the country – her experience, her track record of accomplishment, and her judgement are all far too flawed and deficient and therefore prove so. But the party itself needs to control the White House. It needs to control government and to continue implementing its plans for this country.

What this actually means for you and I is that this Collusion of Corruption is divesting us of our rightful voice in government. Our very democracy is being undermined and eroded. Our rightful place in the grand scheme of our government structure is being diminished and minimized right before our eyes.

We are witnessing the engineering of political and government tyranny. The government monopoly that has been instituted for government purposes, and which has consistently and steadily worked in favor of growing the federal government and its power (the cornerstone of Democratic policy), apparently is no longer strong enough or effective enough for the political elitist class. We are witnessing something very alarming and serious: When the Democratic Party’s (Progressives’) interests are threatened by a growing popular movement, it is willing to engage in massive collusion and corruption to neutralize that movement. It will do anything to ensure that its interests remain paramount and that government works for its own interests rather than for the benefit of the States and for the good of the American people – the purposes it was established for. In the past, Democrats and progressives doggedly pursued their goals of government power, challenging the nature of the Constitution and appointing judges and justices to erode that foundational document in order to strengthen the government monopoly in their favor. That system is alive and working fastidiously, like termites on a pillar of wood. And as it erodes our Constitution and its guarantees of limited government and essential rights, the people have taken notice. And they are reacting and rebelling – politically. It is this political unrest, this push-back against the government, which has prompted the Democratic Party to come up with new tactics. It appears that its modern-day tools are voter fraud and massive collusion of political power.

As we have seen members in government, including members of the Republican Party, a party ideologically entrusted to counter the designs of the Democrats, side with this party of dubious tactics, we can only conclude that government, and its committed agents, have designs of their own, independent and distinct from the interests and concerns of the average American citizen.

THE ISSUE –

In 2013, the NC General Assembly duly and rightfully enacted a common-sense Voter ID law. Its primary purpose was to cut down on voter fraud and to ensure the integrity of the voting process. Voter confidence and election integrity had eroded terribly over the past few election cycles. Opportunities for voter fraud were being identified by the Democratic Party (community organizing tactics and tactics of the Democratic-controlled unions) and actual instances of such were being documented not only in North Carolina, Illinois (who can forget the 1960 election!), Florida (which refused to prosecute the perpetrators), and Indiana, but all over the United States as well (see Ohio, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, etc). Despite the interests of the people and the state legislature of North Carolina in ensuring that the voting process in North Carolina is transparent, accountable, and free from illegal voting schemes, the US Federal Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (a branch of the federal government; a liberal/progressive fringe element of the federal government), decided to disregard the wisdom of a state legislature and to substitute its judgement for both the people and their duly-enacted government and strike down the Voter ID almost in its entirety.

We know the Constitution protects an individual from discrimination in the exercise of his or her right to vote, and we know that the Constitution demands Equal Protection, so doesn’t this beg the conclusion that the Constitution also requires that common-sense procedures be allowed to be in place (including the right to have a voter prove his or her identity and residence) to ensure that no one’s vote is diluted through this very essential democratic process? After all, if there is one constitutional bright line rule that stands out above all else regarding an individual’s right to vote, it is this: One Person, One Vote. In other words, a person is entitled to have his or her vote count fully and completely, without dilution. Where does dilution come from? It comes from a process where someone’s vote is counted more than others.

So, in light of this decision by the 4th Circuit and with massive fraud and collusion evidenced and confirmed, both working against the American voter, and with the outcome of an election so critically at stake, what can the battleground state of North Carolina do?

The greater question, of course, is what WILL it do?

THE PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTION –

On Wednesday, August 31, the US Supreme Court rejected a last-effort move by Governor Pat McCrory to ensure that our Voter ID law will be in effect on November 8 for the presidential election to reduce likely efforts by the Democratic Party machine (and the Clinton Crime Syndicate) to vote illegally and to cast doubt on and make a mockery of the election process here in North Carolina. The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit handed down an OPINION at the end of July declaring our Voter ID law unconstitutional because it “intentionally discriminates” against African-Americans.” In a split 4-4 decision, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the state of North Carolina to that preposterous opinion by the 4th Circuit. Because the Supreme Court will not take up the case (which, according to the very words of the Constitution, it was SUPPOSED to hear), the decision of the 4th Circuit is supposed to stand. At least that’s what the federal government would have you believe, and would have the States believe. Article III, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the US Constitution reads: “In all cases where a State shall be a party, the Supreme Court SHALL have original jurisdiction.” Shall = Must. To be sure, the challenge to the Voter ID law was directed at “The State of North Carolina.” In other words, the case NEVER should have been heard in any of the inferior courts – the federal district court OR the 4th Circuit. The ONLY federal court which can hear the case is the US Supreme Court. And since it appears that the Supreme Court has no interest in taking up this particular issue or has no interest in taking up another Voter ID law (it already ruled in 2008 that a strict Photo ID requirement was not an unreasonable burden for ANYONE on their right to vote or their exercise thereof), it would make sense that IF the Constitution was adhered to, North Carolina would have its Voter ID law intact for this upcoming election.

First of all, let’s be clear: the federal courts don’t issue DECISIONS; they issue OPINIONS. On the top of their “judicial decision” is written the words “THE OPINION OR THE COURT.” We have to ask ourselves a very hard question: Do we honestly believe that men (in the case of the Courts of Appeal, it only takes 2 justices out of a panel of 3) should have the full power to make decisions interpreting our Constitution and deciding matters that redistribute power from one rightful party to another? If, when such decisions threaten, burden, or destroy the rights of a State or the rights of the individual, what is the rightful recourse? Is the rightful response to cower, give in, surrender? Or is the rightful response – the American response – to side with traditional American principles of liberty, essential rights, federalism, limited government, the rights of the individual? Is it unconstitutional to ignore abusive judicial “opinions” or is it a proper exercise of civil disobedience and a proper exercise of State sovereignty (under the Tenth Amendment)?

A State must always keep in mind its critical position in the grand scheme of our government system. The Declaration of Independence declares that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government.” Relying on this very public and very historic document in the design of our common government, our Founders provided several procedural safeguards to secure these essential principles. One of those procedural safeguards – and the most important one for sure – was the division of government power between the States and the federal government. To ensure that the federal government continues to secure the rights of individuals and does not abuse, oppress, or burden them in any way in their exercise of essential liberties, and to ensure that it remains centered on its legitimate objects of governance, the States are supposed to stand up in opposition on every infraction of the federal government. This is a principle of government that supersedes the terms of the Constitution. Implied in the Constitution ratified and adopted by the States is the power of those parties to see that it is enforced.

And so, with a duty expected of it, but a history of subjugation, what should the state of North Carolina do?

It is this citizen’s opinion that North Carolina should do one of seven things: (1) Call the state legislature into an emergency session the week before early voting begins and pass another Voter ID law (making minor changes but still keeping the spirit of the law intact – requiring reliable identification to vote); (2) Ignore the opinion of the 4th Circuit, asserting that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal (just as the federal district court lacked jurisdiction to hear it), citing Article III, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the US Constitution as legal authority; (3) Ignore the OPINION of the 4th Circuit citing just that… it is only an opinion” and the state, in its equal ability to interpret the Constitution, does not agree; (4) Claim that the opinion directly calls each of the state legislators a “racist,” defames them as individuals and as a political and must be rejected as libelous and therefore illegal; (5) Claim that the opinion offends traditional notions of States Rights and under the Tenth Amendment, the state has the right and duty to defend its sphere of legitimate governing power, which includes common-sense voting laws; (6) Claim that the opinion is a clear violation of the Separation of Powers because the Court went out of its way to substitute its judicial opinion for the legislature’s rightful opinion as lawmakers and therefore illegitimate and unenforceable; or (7) Governor Pat McCrory should issue an Executive Order to all Boards of Election instructing them that a reliable identification is REQUIRED of all persons who show up to vote (and whoever cannot produce one must then-and-there, sign an affidavit and submit to having his or her photo taken). In the Appendix, I have attached a sample Executive Order.

BACKGROUND –

While we are bustling about living our lives – going about our laborious days working (one-third of the time to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s), raising our children, putting them through college, caring for loved ones, taking care of our property – we had hoped that the Constitution would stand, immovable, impenetrable, unshakable, and steadfast for the rights and the principles that over a million Americans sacrificed their lives for. That’s what a constitution is – it is a fixed and permanent rulebook for the government as well as a documented grant of assurance that We the People will be able to live our lives without much government interference. Within only a few years after the Constitution was ratified and the new Union was formed, this was how the Supreme Court understood its significance:

In America, every State in the Union has its constitution reduced to written exactitude and precision. The federal government as well. What is a Constitution? It is the form of government, delineated by the mighty hand of the people, in which certain first principles of fundamental laws are established. The Constitution is certain and fixed; it contains the permanent will of the people, and is the supreme law of the land; it is paramount to the power of the Legislature, and can be revoked or altered only by the authority that made it. The life-giving principle and the death-doing stroke must proceed from the same hand. What are Legislatures? Creatures of the Constitution; they owe their existence to the Constitution: they derive their powers from the Constitution: It is their commission; and, therefore, all their acts must be conformable to it, or else they will be void. The Constitution is the work or will of the People themselves, in their original, sovereign, and unlimited capacity. Law is the work or will of the Legislature in their derivative and subordinate capacity. The one is the work of the Creator, and the other of the Creature. The Constitution fixes limits to the exercise of legislative authority, and prescribes the orbit within which it must move. In short, gentlemen, the Constitution is the sun of the political system, around which all Legislative, Executive and Judicial bodies must revolve. Whatever may be the case in other countries, yet in this there can be no doubt, that every act of the Legislature, repugnant to the Constitution, as absolutely void….. [Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorance(1795)]

The Law of the Land is the Constitution of the United States. And this Constitution of ours has a fixed and permanent meaning. All a justice or a judge has to do is consult those original authorities. (But they rarely ever do so, if ever). The meaning is fixed in the Federalist Papers (which Thomas Jefferson called the “best commentary on the Constitution ever written”) and in the debates of the state ratifying conventions. The meaning and intent of the Constitution as understood by each of the States when they ratified it is the PROPER and LEGAL MEANING of the Constitution. Except for the amendment process, which is the only legal way to alter or amend the meaning of the Constitution in order to reflect the changing demands of the people, there is no authority by the federal court system to re-interpret the Constitution from its original meaning. There is only one justice on the Supreme Court now who gets this (Justice Clarence Thomas). Maybe Justice Samuel Alito, another conservative, also understands this. We once thought that Chief Justice John Roberts was a conservative and would abide by this principle. All the others are progressive and believe the Constitution is a piece of wax, to be molded by the times, the circumstances, the exigencies of government, and the changing norms. They believe the Constitution is a “living, breathing document” which means it has no fixed meaning and hence can be altered and re-interpreted at the bench.

Indeed, the Law of the Land is the Constitution of the United States… a document written simply enough for every American to understand for himself that it means. If it protects our essential rights and establishes a limited government, wouldn’t you expect that document to be easily understandable by the People? Otherwise, what good is it? If you always needed a lawyer or some other brainiac to read it to you and explain it to you, how can you ever be sure he is being truthful? And perhaps one of the greatest provisions in the Constitution is the Tenth Amendment. It is the great anchor – or as I like to call it, the “Lead Weight” – that restrains government. Government loves to cite the Supremacy Clause to bolster its laws and policies, but it never cites the Tenth Amendment. Both are equally dynamic provisions of the US Constitution; both define the scope and force of the government. The Supremacy Clause pushes against the States while the Tenth pushes against the federal government. While the government can rightfully claim as its supreme authority, the States can equally claim as ITS supreme authority.

So what DOES the Constitution say? The phrase “the right to vote” appears for the first time in Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which says that states shall lose congressional representation “when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime.” The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in July 1868, has been criticized by several historians and students of the Constitution as having been unconstitutionally passed by Congress and illegitimately ratified by the federal government. In other words, it’s passage in Congress and adoption by the States did not meet constitutional requirements (as well as can be challenged under contract theories; coercion nullifies an agreement).

The section talks about the penalty for withholding the ballot but nowhere in the Constitution does it provide that every citizen necessarily has the right to vote. It is nowhere in the Bill of Rights. The Fifteenth Amendment, on the other hand, which was passed two years later in 1870, does speak specifically of “the right to vote.” The Fifteenth Amendment reads: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

This particular phrase, “the right to vote of citizens of the United States,” appears again two more times, each connected with a protection from abridgement. The Nineteenth Amendment provides that the “right to vote of citizens of the United States” will not be abridged on account of gender (suffrage) and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment provides that the “right to vote of citizens of the United States” will not be abridged on account of age (18 years or older). With the amendments come a cause of action to be adjudicated and enforced by both courts and Congress. The fact that the Constitution had to ADD these amendments – to protect the “right” to vote from discrimination based on race, gender and age implies there is no explicit right to vote in the Constitution. Explicit rights, like those in the Bill of Rights, apply to all citizens regardless of any differences.

Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution provides for the “Times, Places, and Manner of Holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.” This provision allows for the popular election of senators and representatives. According to Section 4, the States have the power to prescribe such conditions (time, place, and manner), although Congress may, at any time, alter such regulations. In fact, Congress did so in 1945. By statute, it mandated a uniform date for presidential (3 U.S.C. § 1) and congressional (2 U.S.C. § 1 and 2 U.S.C. § 7) elections – the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Article I says nothing about the right to vote. Article I says nothing about early voting, Sunday voting, or any other extension of the period to cast a vote.

Article II, Section 1 provides for the election of Electors, which will be responsible for the selection of president. “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the State may be entitled to in the Congress….. The Electors shall meet in their respective States [and vote for President and Vice President].” Article II says nothing about Congress having any power to regulate the process of choosing electors, except that it may determine the time of choosing the Electors and the Day on which they must render their votes. The Constitution, however, says nothing about the right of citizens to vote for President. QUESTION: Does this mean that the Fifteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-Sixth Amendments’ protections of the right to vote apply only to the selection of senators and representatives? This is perhaps a question for another day and another article.

Looking at just the US Constitution, then, there would appear to be no fundamental right to vote thus requiring the government to scrutinize the process so intently. On the other hand, there is an explicit right to vote provided in virtually every state constitution. The exercise of the right to vote therefore a state matter. That is to say, states cannot deny citizens the right to vote, but they can regulate the process to address issues they believe are important. Voting laws are the rightful exercise of state government power. And this probably makes sense since it was understood from our Founders that there could be reasonable restrictions on the right to vote. In earlier days, the right to vote was limited to those who had property, for example. If the government could come after you and seize, tax, or regulate your property, then it was believed there should be “skin in the game.” There could be residency requirements and even reasonable literacy tests in order to make sure that a person had a modicum of understanding in order to vote. [The Supreme Court has continued to acknowledge that literacy tests in general are constitutional (under the States’ police powers), but Congress can prohibit them, under the Voting Rights Act, if they are used to intentionally discriminate against minorities]. The Supreme Court holds that under the Constitution, only the States have the right to set voter qualifications. In the grand scheme of things, the right to vote would seem to be a “privilege” – an incident of citizenship. Essential rights (historically-held individual rights) are those that are held to be inherent in one’s humanity. They are rights that do not come from government. That is why governments are prohibited from taking them away, and that is why the Declaration articulates that the primary role of government is to protect them for every individual. These are the liberty interests protected in the Bill of Rights. We see no restrictions like photo ID (upheld by the Supreme Court), literacy tests, residency requirements, etc on our rights of Speech, Press, our right to counsel, due process, etc. Privileges, on the other hand, are not inherent in our humanity but derive from society. Our society, in particular, is designed as a representative democracy which implies that individuals will select the representatives to government on their behalf. Unfortunately, it seems clear that the Constitution doesn’t embrace the notion that individuals have a say in the selection of president. And from Article I, it seems clear that States have the inherent right and power to regulate elections for Congress. As such, it would seem then that they have the right to regulate voting and elections in a neutral and reasonable manner for the “benefit of an ordered society” and to meet state interests.

With respect to Article I, the US Congress has not passed any law requiring an early voting period. It is up to each individual State. This is important in looking at our North Carolina Voter ID law and exactly WHAT citizens are entitled to when it comes to their right to vote and their exercise of that right. The States have historically enjoyed the power to regulate voting and regulate their elections as they see fit; it comes under their general Police Powers covered and protected by the Tenth Amendment. In fact, up until 1991, the election of president and members of Congress was essentially held on only one day – Election Day. My guess is that most state constitutions only guarantee one day of voting. North Carolina’s state constitution only guarantees one day of voting.

Many states have had some degree of early voting for a long time, and that “early voting” was typically allowing the casting of “absentee” votes in a county clerk’s office shortly before election day. But in the 1990’s, several states moved to adopt early voting in a significant way. Texas, which began to use early voting in selected elections and counties in the late 1980’s, expanded its use in the 1990’s. Oklahoma adopted early voting in 1991 and Tennessee, New Mexico, and Nevada in 1994. A number of states adopted early voting after the 2000 election and have continued the practice in subsequent elections. Among them are Arkansas, North Carolina, and West Virginia, which have high rates of early voting and low rates of absentee voting, and Florida, which has high rates of both. Texas and Tennessee have the highest rates of early voting. Along with Nevada, they reported over 40% in 2004. Arkansas, New Mexico, and North Carolina reported over 25 percent and Florida and Colorado almost 20%. A number of states, including Illinois and Maryland, enacted legislation to allow early voting in 2006.

While States have noted the benefits of Early Voting (enlarging access to the ballot box and making it easier for certain folks to vote), some have noted the drawbacks – the greater opportunity for fraud. Since the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, paranoia about the integrity of the U.S. election system has increased. A Pew Research Center survey found that 48% of Americans were confident that “the votes across the country were accurately counted” in the 2004 election. In subsequent elections, confidence would be further eroded. Indeed, after the 2012 election, only 31% of Americans nationwide had confidence in the process. 69% felt the process was corrupted and the outcomes not necessarily trustworthy. There was a perception that people were not taking the process seriously. There was a fear of votes being stolen or being rendered meaningless because of voter fraud. Even if evidence of actual ballot tampering and voter fraud was not made public, the fear was still there.

It wasn’t just the States that were concerned about fraud. In 2005, the Commission on Federal Election Reform (aka the Carter-Baker Commission) made a bipartisan recommendation for voter identification at the polls because of the growing lack of confidence in integrity of the voting process. Even the government acknowledged a legitimate state interest in ensuring and protecting the integrity in the voting process.

Ever since Americans have lost faith in the integrity of the election process and the honesty of the voting process, voter identification has become an important provision in most state voting laws. Many states have opted for some form of photo ID provision, although some states have included other forms of identification that will serve as well. In these laws, there are procedures for when a voter does not have identification: If a voter fails to show the ID that is asked for by law, states provide alternatives and these alternatives fit into two categories – non-strict and strict.

Voter ID laws that are “non-strict” provide at least some voters who lack acceptable identification when they show up to vote to have an opportunity to cast a ballot that will be counted without further action on the part of the voter. For instance, a voter may sign an affidavit of identity, or poll workers may be permitted to vouch for the voter. In some of the “non-strict” states (Colorado, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont), voters who do not show required identification may vote on a provisional ballot. After the close of Election Day, election officials will determine (via a signature check or other verification) whether the voter was eligible and registered, and therefore whether the provisional ballot should be counted. No action on the part of the voter is required. In New Hampshire, election officials will send a letter to anyone who signed a challenged voter affidavit because they did not show an ID, and these voters must return the mailing, confirming that they are indeed in residence as indicated on the affidavit.

With “strict” Voter ID laws, on the other hand, voters without acceptable identification must vote on a provisional ballot and also take additional steps after Election Day for it to be counted. For instance, the voter may be required to return to an election office within a few days after the election and present an acceptable ID to have the provisional ballot counted. If the voter does not come back to show ID, the provisional ballot is not counted.

While states wanted to enact laws to safeguard the integrity of the voting process, many were already walking a narrow line with the federal government on account of their history of past discrimination against African-Americans. They understood that if their laws were challenged, and challenged as being discriminatory, they would surely see them struck down under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The key provision of the Voting Rights Act – Title IV – identified nine Southern States along with specific districts in other states (including almost all of the districts in NC) as having a history of intentional discriminating against African-Americans and disenfranchising them in their right to vote. Consequently, these states and districts were required to submit their voting laws and voting practices, including voter ID laws, redistricting, and even the moving of polling locations with the US Justice Department for pre-clearance. In other words, if the US DOJ found that any voting law, redistricting plan, or movement of polling location evidenced a plan to discriminate against African-Americans, then the law or plan would be struck down under Title IV.

But in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Title IV in the case Shelby v. Holder as being outdated. In writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts relied on data which showed that the US government was using outdated information, going back over 40 years, to continue to claim racial discrimination in those states. Roberts wrote that the system is based on “40-year-old facts that have no logical relationship to the present day.” He continued by writing that the government can no longer continue singling out certain states by relying on the past.

The Court argued that an extraordinary corrective is no longer needed when the problem ceases to exist.

In writing the decision, Chief Justice Roberts also relied on comparison data to show that when the Voting Rights Act was enacted, only 6% of African-Americans were registered to vote in Mississippi, a state noted for its civil rights violations. In the 2004 election, African-American voter registration was 76% in Mississippi, almost four percentage points higher than the white registration rate. In the 2012 election, Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “African-American voter turn-out exceeded white voter turn-out in five of the six states covered by the pre-clearance requirement.” With Title IV invalidated, the meat of the Voting Rights Act is gone. Title V is really meaningless without Title IV, and many lawyers believe that it will be struck down soon as well.

“The Selma of 1965 and the Selma of 2016 are very different places. When it comes to the franchise, this is in no small part because the Voting Rights Act did what it was supposed to do: namely, eliminate the scurrilous “tests and devices” (such as literacy tests) used to keep certain groups of voters from the ballot box. Liberals should be cheering the fact that we are no longer in need of the most aggressive provisions of the Voting Rights Act.” [“North Carolina’s Voter ID Law Should be Restored,” The National Review, 2016]

THE NC VOTER ID LAW –

In 2010, the North Carolina witnessed a historic election for its state government. For the first time since the 1800’s, the people of the state elected a Republican majority. One of the popular mandates of that election was that the newly-elected representatives would deliver on a promise to enact a common-sense Voter ID law to ensure voter integrity. For years, it appeared that the legislature was stalling on its promise.

What the legislature was doing was trying to draft a law that would survive Title IV scrutiny. It was consulting with attorneys to navigate the area of Voter ID laws and the Voting Rights Act.

But after the 2013 Shelby decision, the NC legislature decided to alter its earlier voter law to make it harder to commit voter fraud or to engage in any improper voting schemes. North Carolina took very seriously the constitutional standard of “One Person, One Vote.” And so, in 2013, the legislature enacted HB 589, the NC Voter ID law. It essentially altered the state’s earlier voting law by adding a photo ID requirement and five provisions which either restrict the early voting period or restrict registration. The law was considered a “strict” voter ID law.

Under the NC Voter ID law, every person voting in person must present a photo identification, except for a registered voter voting curbside (other options for identification are available) and for a registered voter who has a sincerely held religious objection to being photographed (that person must have filed a declaration with the local Board of Elections at least 25 days before the election]. The original law (2013) provided that any voter who did not comply with the photo ID requirement would be permitted to vote by provisional ballot but that vote would not count unless that person showed up in person at the Board of Elections office by noon on the day prior to the convening of the election canvassing with a valid ID. (The ID requirement would end up being softened, as will soon be explained).

Now, after the Shelby decision and after having lawyers review the language of its Voter ID law to make sure it passes constitutional muster, the NC legislators were pretty confident that they had enacted something that would bring honesty and integrity back to the state’s voting process. They had done their due diligence. A voter ID requirement in fact had been upheld by the US Supreme Court as a reasonable limitation on a person’s exercise of voting rights.

In 2005, Indiana passed a strict Voter ID law. It was the most restrictive voter law at the time. The strict photo identification requirement in order to cast a vote was challenged as being an unreasonable burden on the right to vote and that challenge made its way to the Supreme Court in 2008. [Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, (2008)]. Civil rights groups (including ACORN), the Women’s League of Voters, and other groups filed amici briefs challenging the constitutionality of the ID requirement. After concluding that no voter would conceivably be precluded from voting under the law, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the photo ID requirement, finding it closely related to Indiana’s legitimate state interest in preventing voter fraud, modernizing elections, and safeguarding voter confidence.

Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion, stated that the burdens placed on voters are limited to a small percentage of the population and were offset by the state’s interest in reducing fraud. He opined: “Because Indiana’s cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons-e.g., elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate-is mitigated by the fact that eligible voters without photo identification may cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk’s office. Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek.”

Justice Scalia wrote separately in a concurring opinion: “The law should be upheld because the overall burden is minimal and justified.” He went on to state that the Supreme Court should defer to state and local legislators and that the Supreme Court should not get involved in local election law cases, which would do nothing but encourage more litigation. “It is for state legislatures to weigh the costs and benefits of possible changes to their election codes, and their judgment must prevail unless it imposes a severe and unjustified overall burden upon the right to vote, or is intended to disadvantage a particular class,” he wrote.

In addition to the challenge that the strict ID requirement was an unreasonable burden on the right to vote, civil rights groups alleged that the requirement benefited Republicans and harmed Democrats at the ballot box (because Democrats include more poor people and minorities). Justice Stevens, joined by Justices Scalia and Kennedy, disregarded that argument and wrote: “The justifications for the law should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators.”

What exactly does the Indiana Voter ID law require of each voter when he or she shows up to vote? This is important because according to the Supreme Court, the ID requirement is NOT an unreasonable limitation on the right to vote. The Supreme Court did not say it was not an unreasonable limitation on the right to vote for a WHITE person. The Court held that the limitation was not an unreasonable limitation on any person’s right to vote.

Under the Indiana Voter ID law, voters MUST have a specific form of ID in order to vote. The ID must be issued by the state of Indiana or the U.S. government and must show the following:

• Name of individual to whom it was issued, which must conform to the individual’s registration record

• Photo of the person to whom it was issued

• Expiration date (if it is expired, it must have an expiration date after the most recent general election; military IDs are exempted from the requirement that ID bear an expiration date)

Voters in Indiana who are unable to or decline to produce such an identification may vote a provisional ballot. The ballot is counted only if: (1) the voter returns to the election board by noon on the Monday after the election and: (A) produces proof of identification; or (B) executes an affidavit stating that the voter cannot obtain proof of identification, because the voter: (i) is indigent; or (ii) has a religious objection to being photographed; and (2) the voter has not been challenged or required to vote a provisional ballot for any other reason. [Indiana statute §3-5-2-40.5, 3-10-1-7.2 and 3-11-8-25.1]

It should be noted that Indiana is racked with voter fraud. Just last week, on October 6, a massive voter fraud scheme was discovered. Democrats and unions were found to be paying people to go vote in Illinois. [And Democrats, minorities, the US DOJ, and the federal courts still like to insist that voter fraud is imaginary and unsubstantiated].

In 2014-2015, the NC chapter of the NAACP, other civil rights groups, and the US Department of Justice challenged the NC Voter ID law (HB 589) as being discriminatory against African-Americans. The challengers alleged that the NC legislature (Republican majority) selectively chose voter-ID requirements, reduced the number of early-voting days, and changed registration procedures in ways meant to harm blacks, who overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party. The specific provisions that were challenged were:

(i) Photo ID

(ii) Elimination of the first week of Early Voting (cutting down the total number of early voting days from 16 to 10)

(iii) Elimination of one of the two Sunday voting days (“Souls to the Polls”)

(iv) Elimination of Same-day registration

(v) Elimination of provisional votes (including out-of-precinct votes)

(vi) Elimination of Pre-registration (permitting 16 and 17-yr-olds, when obtaining a driver’s license, to indicate their intent to vote)

In anticipation of the lawsuit and almost on the eve of the start of the trial (federal district court, Winston-Salem), the legislature met in session to quickly amend the strict ID requirement. The Voter ID bill was amended it to provide more relaxed options to those who show up to vote without a photo ID. Under the amended NC Voter ID law, voters who lack a photo ID (those who claim they cannot obtain one) would be able to cast a ballot after providing their birthdates, the last four digits of their Social Security number, and an affidavit stating that there is a “reasonable impediment” to their ability to present a photo ID. As a result of the “relaxed” ID requirement, the NC voter ID law was reclassified as a “non-strict” voter ID law.

The trial, which began in July 2015 and concluded in January 2016 (the provisions were addressed in two separate phases) vindicated the NC General Assembly. The federal district court upheld the provisions, including the relaxed photo ID requirement. Although Reverend Barber characterized the bill as a return to Jim Crow, Judge Schroeder did not agree. He sided with the position advanced by Governor Pat McCrory: “The history of North Carolina is not on trial here.” Judge Thomas Schroeder wrote: “There is significant, shameful past discrimination. In North Carolina’s recent history, however, certainly for the last quarter century, there has been little official discrimination to consider.”

In upholding the NC Voter ID bill, Judge Schroeder wrote: “North Carolina has addressed legitimate state interests with its voter identification requirement and electoral system. The provisions of the bill are consistent with the mainstream of other states.”

Barber, the US Department of Justice, other civil rights groups, and other appellants quickly filed an appeal to the US District Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (which covers appeals from district courts in NC, SC, VA, MD, and WV, and is situated in Richmond, VA). They continued their racial claim against the NC legislature, alleging that by eliminating tools that make it easier for everyone to vote, they really did so to harm African-Americans in their ability to get out to vote since those tools particularly benefitted that minority group. This past July, the 4th Circuit reversed the decision of the lower federal court, sided with the civil rights groups, and struck down all the provisions that were challenged.

The Supreme Court, the highest federal court of the land, upheld a strict Photo ID law (strict photo ID requirement to vote) in Indiana, concluding that it was not an unreasonable limitation or burden on the right to vote. North Carolina’s Voter ID law, however, which is a “non-strict Photo ID” law, was struck down by the same federal court system. I don’t understand.

In fact, the federal courts are all over the place with respect to strict voter identification laws. (Which makes it very likely that the Supreme Court will have to agree to hear another such case). While the Supreme Court has held that the federal government cannot single states out based on its prior history of discrimination, the federal courts are continuing to do just that. The official proclamations say one thing but in practice, the justices continue as if the Shelby decision was never handed down. For example, on March 23, 2015, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law. Wisconsin’s law absolutely requires that a photo identification be shown before a voter is allowed to cast a ballot. The law is now in effect. In 2011, Texas’ strict photo ID provision was struck down as violating the Voting Rights Act and Arkansas’s strict voter ID law was struck down as well.

DECISION OF THE 4th CIRCUIT —

The US Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals represent the federal appellate court system. There are 12 such Courts of Appeals to serve the 12 federal appellate jurisdictions (aka, 12 federal circuits). North Carolina is covered by 4th Circuit. Appellate courts do not hear a case in the first instance; that is, they are not the trial court and do not listen to or sift through the evidence. Instead, they hear a case on appeal, addressing errors of law (specifically, errors in the application of law to the facts). An appeal to a Circuit Court of Appeals is heard by a panel of 3 judges. And an opinion is issued by either 2 or 3 of those judges. That’s it. Agreement among 2 or 3 judges… that’s what constitutes a judicial “opinion” by the federal judiciary at the appellate level. In most instances, since the Supreme Court will only agree to review a very small fraction of their opinions, the opinion of this judicial “majority” will be the law of the land for the particular judicial district. I find this astounding and frankly, I find it disturbing and unacceptable.

While the district court heard the evidence and weighed the legitimate interests of the state versus the possible burden to African-American voters, and concluded that law was a reasonable exercise of legislative power and discretion and in fact, was consistent with other laws which have been upheld by higher courts. A different court, the 4th Circuit, concluded just the opposite. It completely dismissed the legitimate state interests (in addressing voter fraud), accused the legislature of using voter fraud as a mere pretext for intentionally targeting African-Americans and making it harder for them to get out and vote. Two different courts, two radically different conclusions. One listened to testimony and addressed the evidence first hand, the other did not. One was willing to defer to the wisdom and judgement of a legislature duly elected by the people of the state who, with their votes, sent a mandate for voter reform. The other was too willing to dismiss that wisdom and judgement and substitute its own.

What this sounds like to me is a case of different judges bringing different politics and different ideology to the bench and using them to guide their decision rather than simple rules of statutory and constitutional construction.

The opinion of the 4th Circuit, to say the very least, was a very disturbing one. In my opinion, in the 21st century, there is no place for an opinion as racially charged as this one. There has been absolutely no evidence that there is any de jure discrimination against African-Americans in the state of North Carolina to warrant such accusations.

Let’s consider just how insane the opinion of the 4th Circuit is. First of all, in writing the opinion for the court, Judge Motz concluded: “After years of preclearance [that would be Title V of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed to remedy the effects of Jim Crow and the poll taxes and literacy tests that were used in certain southern states to keep African-Americans away from the polls], by 2013 African-Americans were poised to act as a major electoral force. [The fact that an African-American was running for president was a major factor in energizing them to vote; this was not mentioned by the Court]. But, on the day after the Supreme Court issued Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2103), eliminating pre-clearance obligations[striking down Title IV], a leader of the party that newly-dominated the legislature (and the party that rarely enjoyed African-American support) announced an intention to enact what he characterized as an omnibus election law. [The Court was not correct here. The Republicans have dominated the legislature since 2008, when an election mandate sent a clear message that Democratic policies were no longer to be tolerated. Furthermore, the Republican Party has long been the political party that has enjoyed African-American support; in fact, from 1860-1964, the Republican Party has been the ONLY party to recognize and fight for the civil rights of African-Americans]. Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African-Americans. In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the State offered only meager justifications. [The court did not consider voter fraud to be a legitimate justification and in fact, the trial court before it heard no evidence of the enormity of actual voter fraud here in our state]. Although the new provisions target African-Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist. [Again, the court substituting its judgement and its knowledge of what goes on here in NC, not believing that voter fraud is a legitimate problem]. Thus, the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation. In essence, the State took away minority voters’ opportunity because they were about to exercise it. This bears the mark of intentional discrimination.”

** Note that the opinion is in italics. MY comments are added in brackets and are highlighted.

The OPINION of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals states, in spirit and effect, that African-Americans are entitled to special guarantees when it comes to their exercise of the right to vote. It states that while restrictions and limitations are indeed allowable and even constitutional, and while they are not an unreasonable burden to white Americans or even to Hispanic Americans, they are not permissible for African-Americans. That is exactly what the decision states. By holding one race to lower standards of compliance, I would venture to say that the opinion is racist. And by implying that a State MUST hold that race to lower standards, it is forcing racism in its law-making. What the decision also states, and what I find also extremely disturbing, is that while the legislature has a legitimate and important state interest at hand and is willing to enact a neutral piece of legislation to address it, just because a group of justices can be convinced by a minority group that it was enacted with an intent to discriminate, the justices puts the opinion of the majority group over the legitimate interests of a state governing body. In other words, the justices can willy-nilly substitute their opinion for the collective decision of a duly-enacted state legislature, vested with the right and authority to legislate on the very issue.

The court’s legal reasoning is not exactly sound. The notion that rolling back same-day registration or shortening early-voting periods is unconstitutional is absolutely absurd. Early voting began in 1988, and thirteen states still do not have it, while same-day registration is still not available in some three dozen states. Are all of these jurisdictions in violation of the Constitution? In North Carolina, citizens – ALL citizens – were only given one day to vote… Election Day until the late 1990’s. Was North Carolina violating the Constitution?

I find it interesting that as the 4th Circuit addressed the photo ID provision of the NC Voter ID law, the judges ended up engaging in their own racial stereotyping of African-Americans. Actually, they merely endorsed the inherent racial stereotyping of Reverend Barber, the NC NAACP, other civil rights groups, and even the US Justice Department. It was the testimony of Justice Department officials who explained that “black voters would be hurt by North Carolina’s law” because they are “less sophisticated” than their white counterparts. There was no mention by these civil rights groups, or the US DOJ or the 4th Circuit, as to whether the “unsophistication” also prevents them from taking advantage of the provisions whereby the state provides a free ID to anyone who doesn’t already have one AND that citizens can still vote even without an ID if they sign a form at the polling place asserting that there was a “reasonable impediment” that kept them from getting the free ID.

Indiana’s ID requirement, stricter than North Carolina’s, was upheld as reasonable. And an almost identical ID law in South Carolina with the “reasonable impediment” exception was upheld as non-discriminatory by a three-judge federal court in 2013. Georgia’s Voter ID law was upheld in 2008 and a challenge to Indiana’s law failed. Without a doubt, there is strong and broad popular support for voter-ID laws (except by the Democratic establishment). A 2012 Washington Post poll recorded support among nearly two-thirds of blacks and Latinos. In June 2015, 76% of respondents, including 58% of self-identified Democrats, supported voter-ID laws.

Why does race continue to frustrate common-sense legislation?

As the National Review wrote: “The Fourth Circuit went out of its way to ignore evidence, impugn the motives of North Carolina’s legislature, and concoct specious legal rationales to forward a political agenda.”

Nowhere does the Constitution say that African-Americans are ENTITLED to a DIFFERENT set of standards, are ENTITLED to AN EXTRA WEEK of Early Voting, or are ENTITLED to SUNDAY VOTING. These are just SOME of the provisions of the NC Voter ID Law that the 4th Circuit held to be intentionally discriminatory against African-Americans. The 4th Circuit held that the Voter ID law evidences an INTENTIONAL DESIGN and an DISCRIMINATORY INTENT by the North Carolina legislature to deny African-Americans their right to vote, likening them to the Southern Democrats of the 1860’s thru the 1960’s who used poll taxes, literacy tests, scare tactics, and force to prevent African-Americans from voting. If I were the NC legislature, I would sue the 4th Circuit for slander and libel. The Voter ID law passed in Indiana was a “strict photo ID” law (stricter than North Carolina’s law) and it went before the Supreme Court in 2008. In an opinion authored by the most liberal member of the Court at the time, the Supreme Court found that a Photo ID requirement was NOT AN UNDUE BURDEN to ANY citizen. In fact, just a few years earlier, a federal government committee looking into the election process took a number of polls and found that only 31% of Americans had confidence in the integrity of the election process. In other words, 69% of Americans believed that our election process is corrupt and racked with fraud. With that finding, states began enacting voter ID laws, some requiring a photo ID. Indiana was one and so was Texas. it was this law that went to the Supreme Court. LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION – and I wish I could ask this directly to the judges of the 4th Circuit: If a strict Photo ID requirement (in Indiana’s Law) was found by a LIBERAL Supreme Court to be a permissible and constitutional condition on the exercise to vote and found NOT TO BE AN “UNREASONABLE” BURDEN on ANYONE, how is it that a lesser federal court can find that a photo ID requirement in NC’s law, which is not as strict as Indiana’s, is unconstitutional?? How is it that the LIBERAL Supreme Court can find that a strict Photo ID requirement (in Indiana’s Law) is a permissible and constitutional condition on one’s exercise to vote and is NOT an unreasonable burden on ANYONE but a lesser federal court can find that the photo ID requirement in NC’s law, which is not as strict as Indiana’s, is an unreasonable burden on AFRICAN-AMERICANS? No other minority group was found to be burdened.

All this talk is about what provisions African-Americans are specifically entitled in order to secure and protect their right to vote. But where is the talk about the security and protection of everyone’s vote against voter fraud? Shouldn’t a constitution that provides for “One Person, One Vote” also provide for protection of individuals in their right to vote from dilution due to voter fraud?

If there is a legitimate state interest that the law addresses, the mere fact that a minority group can show that it burdens them (which is questionable at most, and highly exaggerated at the very least) should not undermine and invalidate the fact that such an important interest is being served. After all, minority groups (and one in particular) will always claim special circumstances so as to frustrate common-sense laws and cry “discrimination” and most often so when it benefits the agenda of a political party. For many years, the Democratic Party has been able to brainwash this group of minorities into believing that it alone will address their concerns. Aside from enlarged welfare and entitlement programs and continuing to convince them that they are victimized by white society and discriminated against in every aspect of society, all of which, in sum total, leaves them believing that they are a disadvantaged class, the Democratic Party has done very little for these individuals. Most live in “comfortable poverty,” live in inner-cities or poor areas of town, find it increasingly difficult to find jobs (in part because they opt for welfare, choose to treat education lightly, have children outside of wedlock, or because the Democratic Party encourages open immigration of Hispanics who eagerly work but work jobs that take away most of the opportunities for African-Americans), and suffer from the effects of an ever-growing erosion of the black family. All these realities for the “disadvantaged” African-American have been created by years and years of Democratic law-making and policy-making.

This particular minority group alleges many reasons why it is different from other groups and other members of society… its members are poorer, less educated, have weaker family structure, poorer health, heavier and less able to move, less likely to have cars to get around, more illiterate, and the list goes on and on. With a list like that, how can any law not be disparately burdensome to them.

A photo ID is too burdensome for African-Americans, according to agents (judges) of the federal government. In fact, it rises to the level of outright discrimination. As the court explained, it’s just too hard for African-Americans to get the most common kind of photo ID – the one issued by the DMV. “African-Americans disproportionately lack the most common kind of photo ID… They are disproportionately likely to move, be poor, be less-educated, have less access to transportation, and experience poor health.” Yet it appears that in order to collect a check when you are poor and to pick up medication at the pharmacy, one needs a photo ID. At least, I’ve always been required to show an ID to cash a check, write a check, and to pick up medication for myself or any of my children. According to the court’s reasoning, the mere fact that such a requirement is included in a law, knowing that African-Americans are so lacking in several key areas of functionality in society, automatically makes that provision an act of intentional discrimination against them.

Hence, we’re back to two sets of standards; One set of provisions applies just fine to every person in the North Carolina, except African-Americans. And a different set of provisions applies to African-Americans. Hmmmm, sounds like we are back to Jim Crow, except that now it’s sponsored by the federal government. And while the first era was motivated by the Democrats and Southern Democrats believe that blacks are inherently inferior to whites and shouldn’t co-mingle, the current era is motivated by the government’s belief that blacks are less capable of doing for themselves and functioning in society at the same level as other races. It’s intentional racism either way.

So I guess it means that African-Americans don’t need a photo ID to collect a welfare check. That’s just too discriminatory. Let the rampant welfare fraud ensue. At that point, I will willfully withhold my federal income tax and encourage others to do so as well. Because I work hard for my paycheck, I at least make sure to spend my money carefully and take precautions against identify fraud. I guess African-Americans don’t need a photo ID to get a gun. That’s just too discriminatory. Already, too many guns are landing in the hands of African-Americans unlawfully. Nationally, blacks commit shootings at a rate of 11% more than whites. In New York City, blacks make up 23% of the population and whites makes up 33% of the population, yet blacks commit 75% of the shootings while whites commit only 3%. If blacks were represented at 33% of the population in NYC, like whites, then they would account for 107.6% of shootings. That would mean that in NYC, blacks commit 35 times as many shootings as whites. Across the East River from Manhattan (NYC), in Brooklyn, there are two neighboring communities. There is the predominantly black community of Brownsville and the predominantly white and Asian community of Bay Ridge. There are 81% more shootings in Brownsville than Bay Ridge. [Bill Whittle discusses the facts obscured by the Black Lives Matter movement –https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004657054354&fref=ts%5D

Can you imagine if we applied the same standard and same rationale to gun purchases as our courts are applying to the NC photo ID requirement in its Voter ID law – that is, that it is discriminatory to require blacks to show a photo ID when applying for and purchasing a gun? Would that be insanity? But you can’t hold one standard for voting and another for requiring a photo ID for the exercise of any other right or privilege of citizenship in the United States.

Again, a “strict” photo ID requirement was challenged in the Indiana Voter ID law as an undue burden and an unreasonable restriction on the right to vote and the US Supreme Court said NO IT’S NOT! The NC ID law, which is less stringent than the Indiana law and is more relaxed than the Indiana law when it comes to those persons who can’t get a photo ID was challenged as “Racist.” And because it was challenged as Racist rather than Burdensome, apparently the federal court used a different standard. What is “reasonable and not an undue burden” to all citizens in Indiana (including blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, etc), apparently is a burden only to African-Americans in North Carolina. It makes no sense at all. Truly, the term “racism” obscures the real meaning of the one term that blacks valued so much in the past — “Equal Protection.” Racism now is a term used to get “special” treatment and “special” protection. It’s a mockery of our Constitution and our laws.

The assertion that really enraged me in the opinion was when Judge Motz wrote: “The asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation. In essence, the State took away minority voters’ opportunity because they were about to exercise it. This bears the mark of intentional discrimination.”

Judge Motz talked about intentional discrimination, but what he was really outraged about was the fact that the restrictions might (and no one actually believes it will happen) prevent African-Americans from turning out at the polls to support the Democratic Party. The panel was concerned that the Democratic Party might somehow be harmed by the Voter ID bill – not that African-Americans are somehow overly burdened by its provisions. That’s why the panel talked about the legislature in terms of a political party (“the party that newly-dominated the legislature (and the party that rarely enjoyed African-American support”) and then talked about African-Americans in terms of a political party (acknowledging that they don’t support the party that newly-dominates the legislature). Because politics is really the motivation behind the 4th Circuit’s opinion, and because the judges ignored legal precedent (the Crawford v. Marion County decision), the opinion should be ignored. Moreso, the Supreme Court should have noticed this error and agreed to reverse the decision. The part of the Crawford opinion I am referring to, of course, is this statement: “The justifications for the law should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators.” This statement was the joint opinion of both liberal and conservative members of the Supreme Court – Stevens, being a strong liberal, and Scalia, being a strong conservative.

The opinion of the 4th Circuit is extremely troubling for another reason, and I touched on it earlier. The federal judiciary – again, a branch of the federal government – is clearly attempting to influence and burden states (and particularly those who had discriminated against African-Americans in their right to vote many, many years ago and which, according to the Supreme Court in Shelby v. Holder, 2013, were no longer to be prejudiced or bound by past discrimination in the eyes of government or the courts) by telling them that they MUST enlarge opportunities for African-Americans to exercise their right to vote. It is a very racial decision. Against the judgment of the Supreme Court, courts like the 4th Circuit appear to continue with the automatic presumption that the South continues to racially discriminate and that it is their job, and the job of the federal government, to sift through their laws, pull away the veil of equal-treatment, and find the embedded racism. And since when does the federal government have the authority to dictate how States should conduct their affairs under their traditional police powers (powers reserved under the Tenth Amendment)? Repeatedly, the Supreme Court has said the government cannot do so.

With the opinion by Judge Motz, we are left with the question, which is a very constitutional one: “What are voters actually entitled to when it comes to early voting and opportunities to register?” And what are African-Americans specifically entitled to, above and beyond what are offered to persons of other races?

The States and We the People ourselves must free ourselves from the mindset that federal judges have the absolute wisdom and integrity to declare what the law is and interpret what the Constitution means. Two or three ambitious, “politically-appointed” and “politically-motivated” judges do NOT authoritatively say what the law is. THE CONSTITUTION ITSELF DEFINES WHAT THE LAW. And judges and the federal government cannot twist, mis-interpret, re-interpret, or ignore what it says. States are sovereign equivalents to the federal government, if not superior. Indeed, in most aspects of law-making, they have reserved powers which are beyond the reach of the federal government and are to be respected by the federal government. Yet, the federal government has a monopoly over the meaning, intent, and scope of the US Constitution and the scope of its powers – the powers belonging to all branches. Nowhere in that monopoly are the States represented as sovereigns. As mentioned earlier, the 17th amendment changed the election of Senators andMarbury v. Madison perfected the federal monopoly by vesting unconstitutional powers with the Supreme Court over interpretation and enforcement. The federal judiciary looks out only for the federal government so let’s not pretend that it is an impartial arbiter or umpire for the States. The States have no such umpire or agent at the judicial level – the final leg of the federal monopoly.

Federalism is dead until and unless the States decide that the doctrine must be revived and is important enough to be revived.

FINAL THOUGHTS –

For several years, the South indeed engaged in efforts to prevent freed blacks from voting. And the South paid dearly for that history. Because of that history, the federal government and the courts, through legislation and judicial decisions, adopted an automatic presumption that such States were engaging in actual discrimination and discriminatory intent. The scrutiny seemed reasonable in light of the history of abuse. In our current time, there is no discrimination in the right to vote (and certainly no state is required to go above and beyond to give every conceivable opportunity to vote). But what there is is a history of voter fraud, dubious and illegal get-out-the-vote initiatives, and voting schemes that is almost exclusively associated with the Democratic Party. In the weighing of interests when it comes to elections and election/voting integrity, the real presumption that should guide voter laws, government policy, and federal court judges is the one tending towards fraud and dishonesty, and the undermining of the principle “One Person, One Vote.”

In fact, I would go one step further… Rather than a government commission merely advising that States adopt voter identification laws, the government should ENCOURAGE them to do so. And when they pass such laws, the state legislature should be given the presumption that they were passed to counter potential voter fraud. I liken the Democrats’ attempts over the many years (through political collusion, union activity, mob activity, and questionable community-organizing groups such as ACORN) to elude, evade, ignore the voting laws on the books of the United States and in the several states to the attempts of the Southern Democrats many years ago to disenfranchise blacks by attempts to frustrate school segregation. Just as the conduct of Southern Democrats evidenced a deeply-entrenched scheme to disenfranchise blacks and to frustrate the policy of segregation by the Supreme Court (Brown v. Board of Education) and HAD TO BE REMEDIED by policies of affirmative action, racial quotas, bussing, and court-mandated redistricting plans (lasting over 50 years), I would argue that the schemes of the Democratic Party over the past many years have also evidenced such a deeply-entrenched and organized scheme to break the law and to violate the cherished standard of “One Person, One Vote” for citizens of the United States (as articulated by the US Constitution) to actually REQUIRE such a presumption in Voter ID laws.

The reality is, despite the claims of the left, racism is a thing of the past and voter fraud is the new form of discrimination. This is not an allegation but a reality. The Supreme Court could not find any claim of merit that a photo identification burdens an African-American under when a voter law provides an alternative for those who cannot obtain one (as North Carolina’s law does, and as Indiana’s law, the strictest in the nation, does). Yet day after day, year after year, we learn about documented and prosecutable cases of voter fraud. Ask former GOP senator Norm Coleman, whose 725-vote lead over Democratic challenger Al Franken in 2010 turned into a 312-vote victory for Franken — thanks in part to 1,099 votes cast by ineligible felons. In 2015, Philadelphia election judges arrested four electoral judges for casting fraudulent votes. Fake signatures helped place Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Indiana’s primary ballot in 2008. Incidents such as these are why lawmakers in more than 30 states have now enacted laws to protect the integrity of their elections. John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election on account of voter fraud, for crying out loud! Have we forgotten that?

In the words of James O’Keefe, founder of the Veritas Project, “Democrats will do anything they possibly can to skirt and break the law until they are caught.” As his organization has proven time and time again, by going into Democrat-controlled polling locations and interfacing with Democratic “get out the vote” initiatives

This election cycle, we have a presidential candidate who is who using unprecedented tools in order to steal the election. She is using arrogance and intimidation, shady back-door deals, illegal slush-funds, and tactics of voter fraud. She has colluded with enforcement agencies at the highest levels of government to evade prosecution for her lawless conduct and is currently colluding with the vast left-wing conspiracy known as the liberal media to essentially conduct her campaign why demonizing her opponent. The media shares with the American people only what it wants them to hear (pro-Clinton) while suppressing what it doesn’t want them to hear (the truth).

The NC General Assembly merely anticipated the fraud that would accompany this extremely important presidential election and enacted a common-sense Voter ID bill – a bill that the overwhelming numbers of NC voters demanded of their representatives.

Democracy is our greatest strength. It gives us the opportunity to have government work FOR us and to alter it when it works AGAINST us. And the constitutional principle of ‘one person, one vote’ has always been a vehicle for Americans to hold their government accountable, and ensure it is responsive to the challenges we face as a nation.

To conclude, I’d like to remind the reader of the options that our Governor, Pat McCrory, and our state legislature can take to provide reasonable and common-sense measures at polling places next month. These options are bold, for sure. And each option will allow us to get around the decision of the 4th Circuit… the dictates of a group of three progressive judges. But what is at stake is the integrity and fairness of the voting process here in our state and our rightful expectation of such. The constitutional bright-line rule of “One Person, One Vote” cannot be undermined. We already know that we can expect voter fraud (and some predict an extensive amount of it) because of the fact that our state is a key battleground state. It would be unconscionable to surrender our electoral votes on account of fraud simply because three judges refused to reject the outdated presumption that NC discriminates against its African-American citizens. Again, the seven options I am suggesting include: (1) Call the state legislature into an emergency session the week before early voting begins and pass another Voter ID law (making minor changes but still keeping the spirit of the law intact – requiring reliable identification to vote); (2) Ignore the opinion of the 4th Circuit, asserting that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal (just as the federal district court lacked jurisdiction to hear it), citing Article III, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the US Constitution as legal authority; (3) Ignore the OPINION of the 4th Circuit citing just that… it is only an opinion” and the state, in its equal ability to interpret the Constitution, does not agree; (4) Claim that the opinion directly calls each of the state legislators a “racist,” defames them as individuals and as a political and must be rejected as libelous and therefore illegal; (5) Claim that the opinion offends traditional notions of States Rights and under the Tenth Amendment, the state has the right and duty to defend its sphere of legitimate governing power, which includes common-sense voting laws; (6) Claim that the opinion is a clear violation of the Separation of Powers because the Court went out of its way to substitute its judicial opinion for the legislature’s rightful opinion as lawmakers and therefore illegitimate and unenforceable; or (7) Governor Pat McCrory should issue an Executive Order to all Boards of Election instructing them that a reliable identification is REQUIRED of all persons who show up to vote (and whoever cannot produce one must then-and-there, sign an affidavit and submit to having his or her photo taken).

References:

NC Voter ID Law (HB 589), passed April 2013 –http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/HTML/H589v7.html

NC Voter ID modifications (HB 836), passed June 2015 –http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/H836v6.pdf (see pp. 5-11). Provides relaxed impediments for persons who do not comply with the photo ID requirement of HB 589. Any person who does not have a photo identification will be permitted to vote a provisional ballot (to be counted according to GS 163-182.1A). A person also can fill out a reasonable impediment declaration and vote a provisional ballot (to be counted according to GS 163-182.1B).

Opinion of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (NAACP v. McCrory, 2016):http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/documents/Opinion72916.pdf

SilenceDoGood, Sept. 1, 2016.https://silencedogood2010.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/nc-can-enforce-its-voter-id-law/

Indiana Voter ID Law – http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2401.htm

Indiana Voter ID law, Indiana Government, Indiana Election Division –http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2401.htm

Voter Identification Requirements – Voter ID Laws, ACSL (American Conference of State Legislatures), August 31, 2016. Referenced at: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx

Josh Siegel, “After Voter ID Defeats, Lessons From Indiana’s Law That ‘Has Stood Test of Time,’ The Daily Signal, August 7, 2016. Referenced at:http://dailysignal.com/2016/08/07/after-voter-id-defeats-lessons-from-indianas-law-that-has-stood-test-of-time/

Bill Whittle discusses the Myths perpetrated by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement –https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004657054354&fref=ts

Section 4 (Title IV) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 –https://www.justice.gov/crt/section-4-voting-rights-act

Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – https://www.justice.gov/crt/section-4-voting-rights-act

List of counties in North Carolina originally identified in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and subject to the preclearance requirements of Section 5 –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_jurisdictions_subject_to_the_special_provisions_of_the_Voting_Rights_Act_of_1965

Section 5 (Title V) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – https://www.justice.gov/crt/about-section-5-voting-rights-act

Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-21.pdf

John C. Fortier, “Absentee and Early Voting,” AEI Press, June 2014. Referenced at:https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/-absentee-and-early-voting_155531845547.pdf

“North Carolina’s Voter ID Law Should be Restored,” The National Review, August 9, 2016. Referenced at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/438810/north-carolina-voter-id-law-should-be-restored

Massive Voter Fraud in NY – http://louderwithcrowder.com/voter-fraud-nyc-democratic-election-commissioner/

Voter Fraud (“Clinton Campaign: Whatever You Can Get Away With.. Just Do It!”) –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhI6bMbhsDE&feature=player_embedded

Voter Fraud Bombshell in NYC – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4XK8DGeWgU

Clinton Staffer on Tape Discussing Voter Fraud – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=167TgR5_DY4

Clinton Voter Fraud in Florida – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=To1dp40LAu8

Thousands of Fraudulent Voter Ballots Marked for Hillary Clinton –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8on9JJLoU8

Largest Voter Fraud Investigation in Texas – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjbgJ7hLLRY

Indiana Voter Fraud Scheme investigation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNtJn3BJbg4

Voter Fraud in NC (thousands voted more than once in 2012, voting in NC and in at least one other state) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pUxFoNlI04

Evidence of Voter Fraud (scheme to dump thousands of ballots pre-marked for Hillary Clinton) on Election Day – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkSg7DSkyjs

APPENDIX:

A. PROPOSED EXECUTIVE ORDER

[Drafted by Bart Goswick and referenced at: SilenceDoGood, Sept. 1, 2016.https://silencedogood2010.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/nc-can-enforce-its-voter-id-law/

Proposed Executive Order

From the Office of the Governor of the Great State of North Carolina – For Immediate Release

EXECUTIVE ORDER No. _____WHEREAS, the U.S. Constitution plainly states that the federal judiciary has certain limitations on what it can, and cannot do. Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 states that any case in which a ‘State’, or any of its ‘Public Ministers’ is a party, the Supreme Court shall have ‘ORIGINAL JURISDICTION.’

“In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have ORIGINAL Jurisdiction.”

WHEREAS, The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has clearly overstepped their authority, henceforth the North Carolina State Board of Elections, and all related agencies, shall consider this opinion by the court, issued on July 29, 2016, to be Null & Void. [http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/161468.P.pdf]

WHEREAS, The North Carolina Constitution, Article III, Section 5, Clause 10 states;

“…the Governor may make such changes in the allocation of offices and agencies and in the allocation of those functions, powers, and duties as he considers necessary for efficient administration. If those changes affect existing law, they shall be set forth in executive orders, …”

NOW, THEREFORE, by the power vested in me as Governor by the Constitution and laws of North Carolina, IT IS ORDERED:

The Great State of North Carolina will proceed with our November 2016 general elections according to the provisions and procedures defined in SESSION LAW 2013-381, aka “Voter Information Verification Act” that I signed into law on August 12, 2013. [http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/HTML/H589v9.html]

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and affixed the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina at the Capitol in the City of Raleigh, this ___ day of _______ in the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty.

B. COUNTIES (JURISDICTIONS) in NORTH CAROLINA ORIGINALLY IDENTIFIED in SECTION 4(b) of the VOTING RIGHTS ACT FOR THE PRECLEARANCE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 5 –

(All of the following counties were identified in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, except as noted)
• Anson County
• Beaufort County
• Bertie County
• Bladen County
• Camden County
• Caswell County
• Chowan County
• Cleveland County
• Craven County
• Cumberland County
• Edgecombe County
• Franklin County
• Gaston County
• Gates County
• Granville County
• Greene County
• Guilford County
• Halifax County
• Harnett County
• Hertford County
• Hoke County
• Jackson County (added around 1984)
• Lee County
• Lenoir County
• Martin County
• Nash County
• Northampton County
• Onslow County
• Pasquotank County
• Perquimans County
• Person County
• Pitt County
• Robeson County
• Rockingham County
• Scotland County
• Union County
• Vance County
• Wake County (was bailed out around 1984, by court decision and hence no longer subject to the provision)
• Washington County
• Wayne County
• Wilson County