Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Masterpiece Comment

I've been preoccupied, since the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling came down, writing about the decision and also finalizing a book manuscript for submission to the publisher on an entirely different subject (gene patents). Tardily, let me note that Doug Laycock and I posted an analysis of Masterpiece earlier this week on the SCOTUS Blog. A bit:


     There is a practical holding and an ideal holding [in Masterpiece]. The practical holding is that the unequal treatment of Phillips and the protected bakers is evidence of unconstitutional hostility. Conscientious objectors embroiled in litigation will have to send testers to smoke out uneven enforcement of anti-discrimination law. We expect that states are unwilling to require socially liberal vendors to produce goods with conservative religious messages they find offensive or against their conscience. If that is so, then those states cannot require religiously conservative vendors to produce goods in violation of their conscience.

     The Supreme Court has announced a powerful ideal. Even when a law has no explicit exceptions, hostile enforcement is unconstitutional. Single-issue agencies that enforce state civil-rights laws must approach claims to religious exemptions with tolerance and respect. And this is apparently an absolute rule; the court does not consider whether hostility might be justified by some state interest, compelling or otherwise.

     But a requirement of tolerance and respect, or even the avoidance of hostility, is difficult to enforce. The opponents of religious exemptions will now start doing the sorts of things done by many other government officials resisting constitutional mandates. They will seek doctrinal and rhetorical manipulations to cloak their hostility to the constitutional right, and their unequal treatment of objectors they agree with and objectors they don’t.

     Those manipulations began in the state’s briefs and in the concurring and dissenting opinions.... 


Berg, Thomas , Current Affairs | Permalink