It is ludicrous that our First Amendment rights are defined by cake and football, but that’s what happened this week thanks to a Supreme Court case and a ridiculously overblown decision by the White House to not host the Philadelphia Eagles.
One baker and a handful of highly compensated athletes shouldn’t define how our Constitution is interpreted. That didn’t stop politicians from wringing as much political mileage out of these two non-events as possible.
First Amendment rights include religion, discrimination
It didn’t take long for the leader of the House Democratic Caucus to call out the Supreme Court decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Rep. Crowley claimed it was “in favor of discrimination.”1
Chief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette (D-CO) minced no words. She spoke of a couple subjected to “abhorrent discrimination.”2
That’s what we expected if this decision went south for the left. Not to be outdone, Republicans got it wrong too.
Representative Steve King (R-IA) chose the religious freedom argument:
The right to freely exercise one’s religion is an explicit right in the First Amendment, whereas the Founding Fathers would have scoffed at the suggestion that a State could punish a baker who refused to violate his conscience by supplying cakes for a same-sex ceremony.3
So did Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL):
I was pleased to see the Supreme Court rule in favor of the baker today. I feel it is a win for Americans everywhere as our Christian-based values were finally upheld today. No one should be forced to work in a situation that compromises their religious belief system.4
I was also pleased to see the baker prevail. No one should be forced to take a customer’s money if they don’t want to, but that’s a free enterprise argument. It didn’t have to be a religious freedom argument until politics intervened.
So on one side our First Amendment rights include the right to discriminate. On the other we have the right to protect our religious beliefs from discrimination.
Where does the truth lie? Free enterprise.
What happened to trusting free enterprise?
The real problem is that politics forced our judicial system to take up what should have been dealt with by our trust in free enterprise. Instead, this was about a Christian cake maker’s convictions and an LGBT couple.
There is a reason that straight people don’t seek out LGBT bars and butcher shops don’t draw a lot of PETA customers. Businesses cater to clientele they have something in common with. That’s why Congress shouldn’t be meddling in whether or not the free enterprise system should be forced to cater to their favorite partisan special interests.
You don’t have to be an economist to know how the system works. Businesses that offend don’t last very long, especially in this age of media feeding frenzies. Bad press means boycotts and lost customers. If you don’t want to take someone’s money there is always another shop willing to step in.
The hypocrisy here is that both sides claim to embrace small business and free enterprise until push came to shove. When they saw an opportunity Republicans and Democrats hammered on their favorite hot buttons.
Public money conflicted with First Amendment rights in another contentious debate over free speech. How did standing for the national anthem turn into an argument over taxes?
First Amendment Rights collide with your tax dollars
I don’t believe Barack Obama ever hosted the NRA at the White House. The organization didn’t mesh well with his politics any more than a sports team that stirred up controversy over the national anthem fits well with a conservative administration.
The left will never acknowledge the winner take all hostility towards Trump that was so adroitly expressed in a CNN article shared to our Facebook page. What’s so hypocritical here is that the economic argument that should have settled the Masterpiece Cake dispute is used by Republicans and Democrats against the NFL.
Chicago Democrat Robin Kelly and three of her Illinois colleagues recently suggested that we protect tax dollars against a discriminatory NFL that would “silence the players you employ”:5
The NFL is one of many private enterprises that has substantially benefitted from federal, state and local investments, including stadium and infrastructure construction. Because of the massive investment of public dollars into this private business, the Members note that the League and its teams should be held to the highest possible standard when it comes to protecting the Constitutional rights of players, fans and employees.6
Instead of turning this into another Constitutional issue it would have been wiser to let free enterprise deal with the NFL. I’m not sure what the Constitutional rights of fans means, but ticket buyers have the right to not be exposed to friction over race after they pay to watch a football game. When they are unhappy enough they’ll stop paying. That’s how free enterprise works.
Free enterprise wasn’t good enough for Democrats. It didn’t suit Republicans, either. GOP members got in front of this issue last year with H.R.3830 and H.R.296, the PRO Sports Act (Properly Reducing Overexemptions for Sports). In contrast to Rep. Kelly’s veiled threat, the bill called for canceling the NFL’s tax exemption outright.
That didn’t happen. Trump got involved. His disagreement with the Eagles turned into a media free for all. The president used the same tactic he tried with North Korea. He cancelled first.
Too bad for the players. With their big, fat salaries they actually have something in common with the president. Trump might have offered them some investment advice.
1. “Chairman Crowley Statement on Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court Case.” The House Democrats. June 4, 2018. https://www.dems.gov/chairman-crowley-statement-masterpiece-cakeshop-supreme-court-case/, retrieved June 7, 2018.
2. “DeGette Affirms Support for LGBTQ Public Accommodations Protections after Masterpiece Ruling.” Diana DeGette. June 4, 2018. https://degette.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/degette-affirms-support-for-lgbtq-public-accommodations-protections, retrieved June 6, 2018.
3. “King: Supreme Court Should Say “I Do” to Cake Baker’s First Amendment Religious Rights.” Steve King. December 5, 2017. https://steveking.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/king-supreme-court-should-say-i-do-to-cake-baker-s-first-amendment, retrieved Jun 6, 2018.
4. “Rogers: Our Religious Liberties Upheld in Today’s Supreme Court Ruling.” Mike Rogers. June 4, 2018. https://mikerogers.house.gov/press-release/rogers-our-religious-liberties-upheld-today%E2%80%99s-supreme-court-ruling, retrieved June 6, 2018.
5. “Congresswoman Kelly leads Chicago Delegation Members in Letter Opposing Freedom of Speech Restrictions by the Chicago Bears and NFL.” Robin Kelly. June 5, 2018. https://robinkelly.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congresswoman-kelly-leads-chicago-delegation-members-in-letter-opposing, retrieved June 6, 2018.