The 303 Creative Ruling Is a Victory over Cancel Culture
“I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
That sentiment has almost certainly died in the age of cancel culture.
The First Amendment used to be sacrosanct to every American; regardless of if you were a dyed in the wool anti-war Democrat that cherished your First Amendment right to assemble, protest, and petition the government or a Bible-believing, attend church every Sunday, dyed in the wool pro-religious freedom Republican who cherishes your First Amendment right to freely practice your faith, wherever you are.
Both my current employer, Family Research Council, and former employer, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), both Christian ministries, have experienced cancel culture in their own ways.
In the charged and turbulent times we live in, it seems cancel culture has canceled even the First Amendment.
Perhaps ADF’s Kristen Waggoner put it best: “The [First Amendment] follows the Golden Rule: if we want free speech for ourselves, we must extend it to those who disagree with us. We should never forget that political and cultural winds shift, which is why our inalienable rights cannot.”
What is ADF? The legal organization is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
ADF defended Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who is now in his third legal battle over his First Amendment right to not be compelled to create custom cake masterpieces that run counter to his deeply held beliefs. And more recently, they defended another Coloradan’s, Lorie Smith’s right not to be compelled to communicate messages that go against her deeply held beliefs.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision on June 30 in Smith’s favor protected and affirmed her, and every single American’s right — whether, Democrat, Republican, Independent, apolitical, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, male or female — not to be forced by the government to communicate messages that go against every fiber of their being whether in business or their personal lives.
It’s just that simple. Or maybe it isn’t.
Because some folks have conveniently forgotten their high school government class, along with what the First Amendment says.
Take for example: The New Republic’s “The Mysterious Case of the Fake Gay Marriage Website, the Real Straight Man, and the Supreme Court.”
In an effort to push back on the extraordinary misinformation perpetuated by the media against their client, ADF’s Jonathan Scruggs joined “Washington Watch” guest host Joseph Backholm on Wednesday to forcefully push back on the false narrative perpetuated by the press and even Colorado’s attorney general.
“This misinformation campaign that’s going on is really an effort to blur what the court actually said,” Scruggs commented. “Just go and read the court’s opinion and see for yourself. What the court said clearly again and again is that free speech is a fundamental right. It’s an inalienable right of all Americans. And that’s what the Supreme Court decision stood up and protected.”
Scruggs went on to point out a notable admission by the state of Colorado in the case. “What is shocking in this case is not the facts, but the fact that Colorado agreed that Lori does not discriminate, that she serves all people yet was still trying to go after her and trying to compel her speech. That should be shocking, I think, to all of us that Colorado’s legal theory would enable the government not just to compel Lori, but, as noted, to compel Americans to say almost anything they disagree with. … It’s bad news when the government has this power. And we are just so thankful for the U.S. Supreme Court standing up and saying the government doesn’t have this power and Colorado is wrong to threaten to enforce its law against Lori.”
Scruggs boiled down this landmark court decision to this simple fact: “The … Supreme Court decision [was] clear that this protects the rights of all Americans to speak consistent with their beliefs. The ruling did not in any way imperil these laws and does not permit these laws from being applied to protect people’s access to goods and services. It just means the government can’t force someone to say something that violates their core convictions, and that protects not only Lorie Smith, our client, it protects the LGBT web designer, it protects the atheist, it protects the Muslim, it protects the Jewish artists. It protects all of us. And that is great news.”
Amen to that!
Alice Chao serves as a Communications Manager at Family Research Council.