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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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BREAKING NEWS

READ: Trump Likens FBI Executing Search Warrant at Mar-a-Lago to ‘Watergate’ in New Statement

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The FBI on Monday executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump‘s Florida home. While there are no details yet on what federal agents are investigating, Trump quickly put out a statement in which he decries the “assault.”

“These are dark times for our Nation,” writes Trump, who since becoming president has likened himself to the entire country, at times declaring an attack on him to be an attack on the United States.

He continues, saying, “my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”

“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” which is true, but no president, possibly except Richard Nixon, has been under criminal investigation before.

“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” he claims. Clearly it had ti be approved by the highest levels at not just the FBI – whose director Trump installed – but the Dept. of Justice, likely by Attorney General Merrick Garland or Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

“It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024, especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Elections.”

“Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries,” he claims, using a term that many consider derogatory to developing countries. “Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before. They even broke into my safe! What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States,” Trump falsely claims.

Mother Jones’ David Corn responds to Trump’s “Watergate” comparison.

“Let’s make this simple: the Watergate break-in was a crime conducted by criminals. This raid was conducted by law enforcement officers who are supposed to catch criminals.”

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS

FBI Has Executed a Search Warrant at Mar-a-Lago: ‘My Beautiful Home Is Under Siege’ Trump Says

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The FBI has executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home to the former president, Donald Trump, several news outlets are reporting.

First to break the news was the publisher of Florida Politics, Peter Schorsch.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation “today executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, two sources confirm to” Florida Politics, he wrote.

“They just left,” one source said.

He adds cautiously: “Not sure what the search warrant was about.”

But minutes later CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported: “The FBI executed a search warrant today at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, the former president confirms to CNN in a lengthy statement.”

Schorsch later posted an announcement from Trump:

Collins reports that “Trump says the raid was unannounced and adds, ‘They even broke into my safe.'”

Earlier this year former top FBI official Frank Figliuzzi at MSNBC noted a federal grand jury was impaneled to investigate “the handling of 15 boxes of classified White House documents that were squirreled away at Mar-a-Lago.”

There is no current reporting indicating that is why the FBI was at Mar-a-Lago.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated.

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News

Biden Travels to Kentucky to Console Flood Survivors After 37 Died – Some Angered McConnell and Paul ‘MIA’

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On the first full day he has been free from COVID President Joe Biden traveled to Kentucky, the home state of the Senate Republican Minority Leader, to visit with flood survivors devastated by lost lives and lost property.

On August 1, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the historic floods had killed 37 people. Hundreds more were unaccounted for.

“I still have aunts and uncles that are stuck in hollers. They are diabetics. They need insulin,” Knott County resident Zack Hall said to CNN the following day, August 2. “I went to visit one yesterday — was lucky enough to get up there (and deliver supplies) with an ATV. But there was no road … and that’s what people need to understand, is the infrastructure here is just completely destroyed and it makes relief efforts [difficult].”

READ MORE: ‘It’s So Gross’: NY Times Blasted for Negative Reporting on Biden by ‘Blindered Horse-Race Analysts’

On Monday, six days later, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden flew down to Kentucky, where they were met by Gov. Beshear. The President, the governor, and the First Lady toured the devastation as President Biden spoke privately and on camera with survivors.

Conspicuously absent? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. Neither according to reports have toured the devastation.

Not absent was public support for the President and public outrage for the two Kentucky Republicans.

READ MORE: Republicans Largely Ignore Biden Killing of Top al-Qaeda Terrorist While Some Use It to Attack the President

“I’m a Kentuckian born and raised,” wrote former pro-basketball player Rex Chapman, now a social media influencer who has played on four NBA teams. “It is absolutely mind boggling to me that Joe Biden has been to visit families of eastern Kentucky who’ve been absolutely devastated by floods — and Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul haven’t.”

Chapman’s remarks were in response to this video of President Biden in Kentucky on Monday.

In. it, Biden says the survivors he talked to are “not just Kentuckians, they’re Americans.”

“This happened in America,” Biden said forcefully. “And everybody has an obligation to help.”

“I promise you,” He told the survivors, “we’re staying, the federal government along with the state and county, we’re staying until everybody’s back to work.”

And he promised they would not just be made whole, but “better than they were before.”

Chapman added, “Biden has had COVID – and the second he could go to Kentucky he went. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell live there and they couldn’t be bothered.”

Award-winning political and communications strategist Greg Pinelo weighed in, writing: “Noting for the record, Joe Biden went to the disaster zone in Kentucky before either Mitch McConnell or Rand Paul. They’ll say they were busy voting against climate change action and making insulin affordable, but it’s been 8 days.”

Coincidentally, Biden and the Democrats on Sunday capped the price of insulin for Medicare patients at $35 and passed the largest bill to address climate change in history. Republicans killed an legislation that would have capped the price at $35 for all Americans. Earlier in his term President Biden signed into law a huge infrastructure bill that would help prevent flooding and create roads and bridges that would withstand heavy flooding.

This isn’t the first time McConnell and Paul were MIA as President Biden turned natural disaster devastation. In mid December last year Biden traveled to Dawson Springs, Kentucky, to visit with survivors of massive tornado damage.

One day later award-winning writer Chip Franklin tweeted, “Who else thinks its reprehensible Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul refused to accompany President Biden in Kentucky?”

Noting Biden isn’t doing this to score political points, attorney Adam B. Bear wrote Monday: “The last time Kentucky voted for a Democrat in a Presidential race was for Bill Clinton in 1996. Not to forget about Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul… Regardless, President Biden is in KY consoling people whose lives have been upended by a terrible storm.”

Others on social media also blasted McConnell and Paul.

Journalist Aaron Rupar noted, “Biden lost Kentucky by 26 points. He works for Kentuckians all the same, as any solid president should.”

“Rand paul? Mia,” tweeted one user, noting Sen. Paul is missing in action. Her bio says she’s a “life long republican. US Navy vet,” and “unabashed anti trump.”

“Mitch McConnell? Mia. The dude with the paper towels?” she added, referring to President Donald Trump’s disastrous visit to hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico, “Mia.”

See videos above or at this link.

 

 

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