Neil Gorsuch is a big fat liar

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Neil Gorsuch is a big fat liar and the Case of the Praying High School Coach was wrongly decided.

The case was a significant test of how the court balances free speech and religious liberty against the establishment clause, with the court increasingly giving more weight to the former. In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor took issue with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s portrayal of the facts in the majority opinion; She said the opinion “misconstrues the facts” regarding whether then-Bremerton (Washington) High School football coach Joseph Kennedy’s prayers were “quiet” and “private.”

Gorsuch began his opinion by stating:

“Joseph Kennedy lost his job as a high school football coach because he knelt at midfield after games to offer a quiet prayer of thanks. Mr. Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway.”

Gorsuch later writes that the evidence makes clear “that Mr. Kennedy has demonstrated that his speech was private speech, not government speech.”

Sotomayor said this was, in fact, a misrepresentation:

“To the degree the court portrays petitioner Joseph Kennedy’s prayers as private and quiet, it misconstrues the facts. The record reveals that Kennedy had a long-standing practice of conducting demonstrative prayers on the 50-yard line of the football field. Kennedy consistently invited others to join his prayers and for years led student-athletes in prayer at the same time and location. The court ignores this history. The court also ignores the severe disruption to school events caused by Kennedy’s conduct.”

Essentially, there is a lengthy, years-long history in this case that includes suggestions that players might have felt compelled to participate. Sotomayor argues that this was important in determining whether Kennedy’s conduct violated the separation of church and state, even after he was issued warnings and his players no longer participated.

In other words, Gorsuch lied. this is not surprising as we have other liars on the supreme court. Those who lied their way onto the court, saying at their confirmation hearings before Congress that Roe was settled law.

The credibility of the court is at an all-time low and confidence is waning.

Full disclosure: I attended Bremerton (Washington) High school when I was 14 years old. This was at a time when I was losing my religion. I clearly remember being appalled and offended by the religious activity taking place at the High School.

THE POST (2017)

Movie Review

The Post 2

I just love newspapers and movies about newspapers.   The Post (2017) rivals some of the best pictures from the past such as Citizen Kane (1941), The Front Page (1974), and All the President’s Men (1976). The Post probably has more in common with All the President’s Men than the others because both movies are about the same newspaper, the Washington Post, and the subject matter was similar; political intrigue. As a matter of fact, the Watergate break in happened the very next year after the publication of the Pentagon Papers and resulted in the resignation of an American president, Richard Nixon. But that is another story and another movie.  These movies show the power of the press and its importance in American society. Justice Hugo Black once said, “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

The Post gives us a nostalgic look back at what the newspaper business used to be like. From the loud, busy, bustling news room to the Linotype operators and the press room, it was a miracle they were able to get a paper out on time as it was such a huge undertaking. Things have changed in the world of journalism since the advent of computers and the internet, but I found it fascinating to see the actual operation of getting a paper out on deadline. I’ve seen it before in real life. As a young Loss Control Representative two of my accounts were the Louisville Courier-Journal and Standard Gravure. Together they published two daily newspapers. It was my job six times a year to inspect their entire operation. It was a fascinating and exciting process to witness.

The Post is concerned with the publication of the infamous and so-called Pentagon Papers. When American military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) realizes the extent of the US government’s deception regarding the Vietnam War, he copies top-secret documents that would become the Pentagon Papers.  Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post, played to perfection by Tom Hanks, discovers the New York Times has scooped them with an explosive expose on those papers. Nixon gains a court injunction on the New York Times prohibiting them from further publication of the Papers or what they have learned from them. Bradlees finds Ellsberg and obtains copies for himself and talks the owner of the Washington Post, Katherine Graham, into publishing them. Meryl Streep plays Katherine Graham in one of her best performances in years. The case goes before the Supreme Court and a ruling in favor the Times and the Post is rendered. One justice was quoted as saying, “The court rules in favor of the governed, not the governors.”

Steven Spielberg is not my favorite director, but that is just a matter of personal taste. He is unquestionably an American master filmmaker. I loved his Indiana Jones series and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But His masterpiece, in my opinion, was and always will be, Schindler’s List. The Post comes in a close second.

Colorado Baker

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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Justice Neil Gorsuch

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Right Commission. I thought these issues had already been decided but I guess I was wrong. The case centers on an anti-gay baker in Colorado who claims a First Amendment right to ignore state law and refuse service to same-sex couples. A key issue in Masterpiece is just how far the court’s conservative justices are willing to go in subverting civil rights law to protect the freedom to discriminate. Here is my opinion on the matter:

Restaurants are considered places of public accommodation. The primary purpose of a restaurant is to sell food to the general public, which necessarily requires them to follow equal protection laws. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. The laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as other people in similar conditions and circumstances. A violation would occur, for example, if a state prohibited an individual from entering into an employment contract because he or she was a member of a particular race. Furthermore there would be a violation if a restaurant owner refused service to a person because of their race.

 

These rights are spelled out in the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination by privately owned places of public accommodation on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. Places of “public accommodation” include hotels, restaurants, theaters, banks, health clubs and stores. Nonprofit organizations such as churches are generally exempt from the law. The federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, so gays are not a protected group under the federal law. However, about 20 states, including New York and California, have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation. Colorado also happens to be one of those states.

Colorado law prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation based on marital status or actual or perceived sexual orientation. According to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, “sexual orientation” means heterosexuality, homosexuality (lesbian or gay), bisexuality, and transgender status. Transgender status means a gender identity or gender expression that differs from societal expectations based on gender assigned at birth.

Therefore, the Colorado baker has clearly violated the civil rights of the gay couple and is violation of Colorado law. At issue before the Supreme Court is whether the baker’s right to free speech is being violated. Enter Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch queried the Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yager regarding the remedy imposed on Jack Phillips, the baker. His concern was that Phillips was to provide comprehensive training to his employees. Gorsuch viewed this as compelled speech which might possibly violate Phillips’ free speech. Yager responded by saying training is a common remedy in civil rights cases.

Gorsuch continued his questioning, “But this isn’t attending your training. The order was ordering him to provide training and presumably compelling him to speak, therefore, and to speak in a way that maybe offend his religion and certainly compel him to speak.”

This theory could seriously undermine civil rights law and have far reaching effects.

It is not unusual to have conflicts with respect to civil rights between parties. That’s why we have judges and trials to help sort these things out. My own view is that if you are in business to serve the public you must do so without discrimination. If you can’t or won’t, even for religious reasons, you have no right to be in business and you should close up shop and go home.

We are a secular country here in America with a clear separation of church and state. When you operate a commercial enterprise in the public sphere you must leave your religion at home if it causes you to discriminate against the public. When you are in business to serve the public you must serve all the public.