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Justice Dept. Supports Anti-Gay Baker – Says He Can Refuse to Make Wedding Cakes for Same-Sex Couples

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DOJ Says ‘Forcing’ Baker to ‘Create Expression for and Participate in a Ceremony That Violates His Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs’ Violates the First Amendment

The Justice Department says baking a wedding cake is First Amendment protected expression. In a briefing filed Thursday for a pivotal Supreme Court case the DOJ says Jack Phillips (photo), owner of Colorado’s Masterpiece Cake Shop, has the right to refuse service to same-sex couples because same-sex violates his religious beliefs.

“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the Justice Dept. amicus brief, as Buzzfeed reports.

Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ is using language taken directly from the religious right’s talking points, claiming that baking a wedding cake is “participating” in that wedding, and is an act of expression, rather that the creation of a cake. 

Earlier Thursday four Congressional Republicans joined Phillips, Washington State florist Barronnelle Stutzman who has a similar case, and their attorney from the Alliance Defending Freedom, on the steps of Capitol Hill. The group spoke at length on religious liberty, announcing that 86 Republicans had signed an amicus brief also siding with Phillips.

Phillips’ case, which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this fall, began when he refused to bake a cake in 2012 for Charlie Craig and David Mullins. He was found to be in violation of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.

The Washington Post notes that the Dept. of Justice’s “decision to support Phillips is the latest in a series of steps the Trump administration has taken to rescind Obama administration positions favorable to gay rights and to advance new policies on the issue.”

But Louise Melling, the deputy legal counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the couple, said she was taken aback by the filing.

“Even in an administration that has already made its hostility” toward the gay community clear, Melling said, “I find this nothing short of shocking.”

Since taking office, President Trump has moved to block transgender Americans from serving in the military and his Department of Education has done away with guidance to schools on how they should accommodate transgender students.

Justice Department spokesperson Lauren Ehrsam told The Washington Bladethe First Amendment protects the right of free expression for all Americans.”

“Although public-accommodations laws serve important purposes, they — like other laws — must yield to the individual freedoms that the First Amendment guarantees,” Ehrsam added. “That includes the freedom not to create expression for ceremonies that violate one’s religious beliefs.”

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin offered his thoughts via Twitter:

ThinkProgress’ Zack Ford highlights a portion of the DOJ’s 41-page amicus brief:

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Groveling Before White Supremacists’: GOP Senate Candidate Slammed for ‘Going Fully Anti-Semitic’

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A Republican candidate for the seat currently held by retiring U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was both criticized for antisemitism and mocked for accidentally yet accurately linking extremism with conservatism on Monday.

Venture capitalist J.D. Vance, whose former boss, billionaire PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel has invested $10 million in a PAC supporting him, posted the strange tweet attacking the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL is a civil rights organization dedicated to “monitoring, tracking and responding to antisemitism in the United States.” Vance is the author of “Hillbilly Elegy.”

He retweeted this post from disclose.tv and called the ADL “a joke of an organization that just goes after conservatives.”

Some slammed Vance’s tweet as antisemitic:

Others just mocked him for accidentally speaking the truth about “extremist and hate movements.”

 

 

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WHO DO YOU THINK?

Psaki Forced to Explain COVID Basics to Fox News Reporter Asking ‘Whose Fault’ Is It Pandemic Cases Spiking

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday was forced to explain the basics of the coronavirus pandemic to Fox News reporter Peter Doocy after he tried to blame the increase in COVID-19 cases on President Joe Biden, bt asking, “whose fault” is it that the numbers are “going in the wrong direction.”

Naturally, the answer is those who could be vaccinated yet are still refusing to do so.

“On COVID Dr. Fauci says we’re going in the wrong direction. Whose fault is that?” Doocy asked.

“Well,” Psaki replied, “I would say first what he was referring to is the fact that because there are still a large population of people in this country who were unvaccinated. And we have the most transmissible variants that we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic that more people are getting sick with COVID, and that’s not, those numbers are not moving in the right direction. I think that’s accurate and you can see it by data.”

Doocy works for one of the top conservative cable channels that possibly has spread more coronavirus and vaccine disinformation than almost any other.

Watch:

 

 

 

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IT'S NOT A GAME

McCarthy Attacks Cheney and Kinzinger as ‘Pelosi Republicans’ – Says He’ll ‘See’ After Call to Punish Them

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Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is responding to a growing chorus of his House GOP caucus members, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who are calling on him to “punish” Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for agreeing to sit on the U.S. Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

“The push to seek punishment rose to a new level on Sunday, after Pelosi announced that Kinzinger had accepted her invitation to join the committee. Initially, most rank-and-file Republicans were content to let Cheney serve without much of a fight, but Kinzinger’s addition has changed the conversation and has put a new level of pressure on McCarthy,” CNN reports.

Some members, including Gaetz, want McCarthy to strip the two Republicans of all their committee assignments but CNN notes Speaker Pelosi could merely re-appoint them. Regardless, the extremists on the right “believe Cheney and Kinzinger need to be reprimanded for not remaining loyal to the conference.”

The Daily Mail’s Emily Goodin reports McCarthy is indulging his more Trumpian tendencies, calling Cheney and Kinzinger names.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gaetz makes clear he sees all this as just a game, angry that one of the GOP’s best “players” has been benched.

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