Category Archives: First Amendment

Hell just froze over: CA judge rules in favor of Christian baker who refused to bake wedding cake for lesbians

In October 2017, two lesbians, Eileen and Mireya Rodriquez-Del Rio, sought to buy a wedding cake from Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, CA, for their upcoming same-sex marriage.

Mireya and Eileen Rodriquez-Del Rio

The owner of the bakery, Cathy Miller, said she must decline “because she does not condone same-sex marriage,” but that she would send their order to another bakery, Gimme Some Sugar.

The lesbians filed a complaint before California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which sided with the lesbian couple and ordered Miller to provide the cake on the grounds that:

  • Miller had violated California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in public accommodations, in this case the baking and selling of a cake.
  • Miller is not protected by the First Amendment, which protects only “those occasions where government requires a speaker to disseminate another’s message”.

Source: Washington Post

On February 5, 2018, California Superior Court Judge David R. Lampe ruled in favor of Cathy Miller. Judge Lampe wrote in his decision:

“The State of California brings this action under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 51, against defendants Cathy’s Creations, Inc. and Cathy Miller. Miller refuses to design and create wedding cakes to be used in the celebration of same sex marriages. She
believes that such marriages violate her deeply held religious convictions. The State seeks to enjoin this conduct as unlawfully discriminatory. The State brings the action upon the administrative complaint of a same-sex married couple, complainants Rodriquez-Del Rios.
The State cannot succeed on the facts presented as a matter of law. The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the State’s interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace.
The right of freedom of thought guaranteed by the First Amendment includes the right to speak, and the right to refrain from speaking. Sometimes the most  profound protest is silence. […]
The State’s purpose to ensure an accessible public marketplace free from discrimination is a laudable and necessary public goal. […] No artist, having placed their work for public sale, may refuse to sell for an unlawful discriminatory purpose. No baker may place their wares in a public display case, open their shop, and then refuse to sell because of race, religion, gender, or gender identification.

The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked. The State is not petitioning the court to order defendants to sell a cake. The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create a cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of a marital union her religion forbids. For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. […]

Such an order would be the stuff of tyranny. Both sides advocate with strong and heartfelt beliefs, and this court has a duty to ensure that all are given the freedom to speak them. The government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas.1

No matter how the court should rule, one side or the other may be visited with some degree of hurt, insult, and indignity. The court finds that any harm here is equal to either complainants or defendant Miller, one way or the other. If anything, the harm to Miller is the greater harm, because it carries significant economic consequences. When one feels injured, insulted, or angered by the words or expressive conduct of others, the harm is many times self—inflicted. The most effective Free Speech in the family of our nation is when we speak and listen with respect. In any case, the court cannot guarantee that no one will be harmed when the law is enforced. Quite the contrary, when the law is enforced, someone necessarily loses. Nevertheless, the court’s duty is to the law. Whenever anyone exercises the right of Free Speech, someone else may be angered or hurt. This is the nature of a free society under our Constitution.

Judge David Lampe’s ruling will be a precedent for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, wherein Colorado baker Jack C. Phillips argues that the First Amendment’s free speech and free exercise of religion clauses give him the right to refuse wedding services to a same-sex couple, despite public accommodations laws that require businesses that are open to the public to treat all potential customers equally.

Phillips has the support of the Trump administration, marking the first time the U.S. government has argued for an exemption to an anti-discrimination law.

David R. Lampe, who has a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law, was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in June 2007 to the Superior Court of Kern County, California.

God bless Judge Lampe!

~Eowyn

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Robert de Niro calls President Trump “the jerk-off-in-chief” and “f*cking fool” while presenting award to Streep

robert de niro and oprah

Remember, #LoveTrumpsHate!

From Daily Mail: Robert de Niro called President Trump a ‘f***ing fool’ in a foul-mouthed rant as he presented Meryl Streep with a best actress award on Tuesday night.

Introducing Streep at the National Board of Review Annual Awards Gala in New York – which is not broadcast on TV – De Niro took time out to call the President a ‘f***ing idiot’ and compare his presidency to the fairytale of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

The Oscar-winner also branded Trump the ‘baby-in-chief’ and ‘jerk-off-in-chief’ while discussing Streep’s new film The Post, which is about the publication of the Pentagon Papers into the Vietnam War.

De Niro said: ‘It was fascinating to watch The Post. That story took place nearly 50 years ago, but there are many parallels with today obviously. At the time of the story Donald Trump was suffering with “bone spurs”. Today the world is suffering from the real Donald Trump.

This fing idiot is the President. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – the guy is a fing fool. 

‘The publication of the Pentagon Papers was a proud moment for American journalism. The Times and the Post challenged the government over critical First Amendment issues. And the press prevailed.

‘Our government today, with the propping [up] of our baby-in-chief – the jerkoff-in-chief I call him – has put the press under siege, trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies.’

‘And again just like 1971 the press is distinguishing itself with brave, exacting journalism.

‘The movie gave us glimpses of President Nixon as delusional, narcissistic, petty, vindictive, nasty and bats*** f***ing crazy. Ah the good old days.’

De Niro has long been a vocal critic of Trump, saying during the presidential campaign that he would ‘like to punch him in the face.’

Since then he has used many public speaking opportunities to trash the President, calling him a ‘blatant racist’, a ‘bozo’ and a ‘motherf***er’.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Thought Crime: California prosecutes man for criticizing Islam on Facebook

The State of California is prosecuting Mark Feigin, 41, for posting insulting comments on the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC)’s Facebook page.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra maintains that Feigin does not have the protection of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment free speech right because his insults are in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 653m(b), which says:

Every person who, with intent to annoy or harass, makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device … to another person is … guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith or during the ordinary course and scope of business.

According to People of the State of California v. Mark Lucian Feigin, between Sept. 17 and Sept. 25, 2016, Feigin posted five insulting comments on ICSC’s Facebook page, before ICSC banned him from commenting further:

  1. “THE TERROR HIKE … SOUNDS LIKE FUN” (written in response to the ICSC’s “Sunset Hike” announcement).
  2. “THE MORE MUSLIMS WE ALLOW INTO AMERICA THE MORE TERROR WE WILL SEE.”
  3. “PRACTICING ISLAM CAN SLOW OR EVEN REVERSE THE PROCESS OF HUMAN EVOLUTION.”
  4. “Islam is dangerous – fact: the more muslim savages we allow into america – the more terror we will see -this is a fact which is undeniable.”
  5. “Filthy muslim shit has no place in western civilization.”

Becerra maintains that:

  • Feigin’s insults violated Cal. Penal Code § 653m(b) because his intent was to annoy and harass:
    • “his repeated annoying and harassing posts on the ICSC Facebook page were made with the specific intent to annoy and harass the members of the ICSC”.
    • “Rather than attempt to engage in discussion or debate, Defendant’s posts are cruel and pointedly aimed at dismissing an entire religion and those who practice it.”
  • Having violated Cal. Penal Code § 653m(b), Feigin is no longer protected by the First Amendment right of free speech — “It is unlikely that a person could engage in the proscribed conduct and still enjoy constitutional protection.”
  • Furthermore, while Feigin “can post whatever he pleases on his own Facebook page,” his First Amendment right of free speech does not extend to him going “go to another Facebook page and post whatever he likes, free of consequence for his actions.”

Becerra concludes: “Protected speech? Political speech? Defendant’s posts on the ICSC Facebook page are neither of those things.”

It’s not just California’s attorney general who’s hostile to free speech.

InfoWars points out that a 2017 survey by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that a majority of registered voters in California (46%) believed that “We have gone too far in allowing” demonstrations by white nationalists, whereas 43% still believed that “the right to demonstrate should not be restricted”.

Although, not surprisingly, Democrats (53%) and Liberals (49% of “very liberal” and 58% of liberals) are more hostile to white nationalists’ right to demonstrate, as much as 42% of Californian Republicans and 43% of Conservatives also believe that white nationalists should not be allowed to demonstrate.

And although, as expected, non-whites are more inclined to restrict white nationalists’ right to demonstrate, as many as 40% of non-Hispanic white Californians also believe that white nationalists should not have the free speech right that the Constitution accords to everyone.

H/t Reason

~Eowyn

VP Pence’s CO neighbors welcome him with “Make America Gay Again” banner

make america gay again

I’m sure the neighbors consider themselves quite clever, even if they aren’t very original.

From Denver Post: For Vice President Mike Pence, the message was unmistakable and the banner that carried it unmissable. “Make America Gay Again,” the rainbow banner reads.

Neighbors of the home near Aspen where Pence and his wife, Karen, are staying posted the message Wednesday or Thursday on a stone pillar that sits at the end of driveways to both homes, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Buglione said Friday.

The residents of the home did not answer the door or respond to a note left Friday asking for comment about the banner. The Pence family, who arrived Tuesday, is expected to leave Aspen on Monday and head back to the Eagle County Airport.

Pence, a former member of Congress and governor of Indiana, has described himself as a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”

Read the full story at AspenTimes.com

DCG

LA County psychologist employee takes credit for sending horse poop to Treasury Secretary

robby strong

Robby Strong: A childish professional…

Any wonder why we say liberalism is a mental disorder?

From NY Post: A psychologist for LA County who thinks President Trump’s tax bill stinks to high heaven likened himself to Jesus when he admitted delivering a crappy Christmas present to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Robby Strong told AL.com he dropped off the box of horse manure at Mnuchin’s house as an “act of political theater” to hammer home the point that “Republicans have done nothing for the American worker.”

“What I did, I would like to compare to what Jesus did when he went into the temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers, who were exploiting the people financially in the name of religion,” Strong told 89.3 KPCC.

“I feel like that’s what the GOP has done to the American people,” added the psychologist with the LA Department of Mental Health.

Strong — who said he was an organizer for the Occupy LA movement — sides with critics of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul who say it favors corporations and the wealthy, CBS Los Angeles reported.

He told KPCC that he “borrowed” some poop from a pal who owns horses and gift-wrapped it in a festive box. Strong added a card addressed to Mnuchin and Trump.

“We’re returning the ‘gift’ of the Christmas tax bill. It’s bulls—. Warmest wishes, The American People. P.S. – Kiss Donald for me,” he wrote.

On Saturday, the bearded man posted several images on Facebook, one of which shows him posing with a shovel next to the box, and another that shows the box full of what appears to be dung.

“I need someone to ride along and document my Secret Santa project. I’m going to hand deliver boxes of horse s—t to Steve Mnuchin over in Beverly Hills,” he added in a message. “No disguises, no fake names. Totally owning this one. You’re only powerless if you do nothing!!!” he wrote.

Strong said he delivered one box to a home Mnuchin owns in Beverly Hills, and another to his mansion in a tony Bel Air neighborhood where the LAPD’s bomb squad responded to. Mnuchin was not in Los Angeles when he received the putrid presents, CBS reported.

He said he realizes his stunt might have put his job at risk – and that he was surprised he has not been arrested by the Secret Service, which questioned him at his home.

“I just got interviewed by the Secret Service and I’ve now joined some of my heroes like Timothy Leary and Martin Luther King,” he told AL.com. “[The agents] just showed up in my yard.”

The LAPD, Secret Service and Treasury Department have not commented on the probe.

Strong pooh-poohed suggestions the prank could have alarmed Mnuchin or his family. “LOL!” Strong wrote on Facebook. “It was pure organic horse–, just like everything that administration’s done so far. Bomb scares certainly were not my intention, but maybe they should be a little scared, eh.

Strong insisted that he was merely exercising his First Amendment rights. “A few years ago when [a Supreme Court ruling] said that corporations are persons and money equals free speech, that is so absurd and my rule of thumb is now that if corporations are free speech, then so is horses—t.”

He also said he didn’t violate laws about mailing hazardous waste*. “It was a gift-wrapped package of poo,” Strong told AL.com. “I kind of dodged that whole issue. Is there a law that you can’t drop off a box of poo? Not really.”

*See the list of hazardous materials, as defined the USPS, here. I believe horse poop qualifies as hazardous under this definition:

Clinical (diagnostic) specimen is any human or animal material including, but not limited to, excreta, secreta, blood, blood components, tissue, and tissue fluids that have been collected and are being mailed to a medical or forensic laboratory for the purpose of diagnosis, or being mailed from a medical or forensic laboratory for return to a law enforcement agency.

But since he personally delivered the poop, guess he dodged a bullet. But he didn’t dodge a visit from the Secret Service. What a fool.

DCG

New York court upholds dismissal of defamation suit against Trump

maga

Kristen Gillibrand hardest hit.

From Bloomberg: You can’t sue Donald Trump for tweeting that you’re a “real dummy!” and a “major loser” with “zero credibility” — or for saying you “begged” him for a job on his presidential campaign when you insist you didn’t.

That’s what a New York appeals court ruled in the case of a Republican political strategist who accused Trump of inciting a “virtual mob” against her after she questioned his fitness for office on television last year. The defamation suit by public-relations specialist Cheryl Jacobus was dismissed in January by New York state court Judge Barbara Jaffe.

“Just because speech may be offensive to someone doesn’t make it defamatory,” said Lawrence S. Rosen, an attorney for Trump. “The president is entitled to his opinion just like anyone else is.”

A five-judge appeals court panel in Manhattan on Tuesday upheld the lower-court ruling, finding that Trump’s statements about Jacobus were “too vague, subjective and lacking precise meaning” to be defamatory. A reasonable person would find them to be opinion and not fact, the court found.

Jay R. Butterman, an attorney for Jacobus, said he intends to ask the state’s highest court to hear the case. “What this decision means is that the free speech is given only to those who have the power and authority to control the media,” Butterman said.

Trump is also fighting a suit by a former contestant on his “Apprentice” reality TV show who claims the president defamed her by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault. Trump’s lawyers have argued the U.S. Constitution bars him from facing state court suits while he’s in office and that his speech was protected under the First Amendment.

DCG

Today’s outrage: Shooting range billboard says “the only time we take a knee…”

jersey shooting range billboard

Rather Annoying Communist Inspired Silencing Tactic.

From Philly.com: A  gun range in Camden County is resisting calls to take down two billboards that activists say aggravate racial tensions and mock NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with race,” said Wesley Aducat, owner of the South Jersey Shooting Club in Winslow Township, which put up one of the billboards several weeks ago near Route 73 in Voorhees Township. The second appears on a digital sign near Routes 73 and 130 in Pennsauken. “It’s just support for our veterans.”

The signs say: “The only time we take a knee…” and show the silhouette of a person shooting a rifle, with the website of the club at the bottom.

Aducat said he supports the right to protest but doesn’t agree with kneeling during the anthem, particularly since many of the club’s members are veterans. He said he has no plans to remove the billboards.

That has upset the NAACP’s Camden County East chapter. It says the signs twist the message of kneeling, which is meant to bring attention to systemic racism and police brutality against people of color.

“We’re talking about police murdering unarmed black people,” NAACP member Keith Benson Sr. said. He called the signs racially divisive and has encouraged people to call the club to complain. “They deserve all the disrespect they’re going to get as a result of putting it up. But they probably thought they were clever. They probably thought they were strong, patriotic Americans.”

South Jersey Women for Progressive Change, a group that formed after the 2016 presidential election to empower women, has also told its members to call the club. Susan Druckenbrod, one of the group’s members, said she recently talked to an employee: “I told them the billboard was offensive, and he said, ‘That’s nice,’ and he hung up.”

Druckenbrod had one word for the billboards: “Racist.”

“We’re living in a very difficult time right now. People are trying to stand up for black and brown people to say, ‘Hey this is not right,’” she said. “That sign really is just mocking the idea of taking a knee.”

The shooting club, which says it is affiliated with the National Rifle Association and requires members to join the NRA, operates along Piney Hollow Road in Winslow, just off the Atlantic City Expressway. (Carmen Console, the club’s membership director, said he had nothing to do with the billboards, despite being named in social media posts as the person to call).

On the club’s Facebook page, people left comments both supporting (“Love the sign on 73!”) and criticizing the signs. One woman wrote, “I’m sure there’s a way to advertise responsible common sense firearm training and use that’s not offensive.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG