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OPINION

The Supreme Court Just Refused This Anti-Gay Florist’s Case – Some Legal Experts Suggest This Debate Isn’t Over Yet

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday announced it would not take up the case of Arlene’s Flowers, a Washington state florists owned by Barronelle Stutzman, who in 2013 refused a same-sex couple’s wedding request. The case was a darling of the religious right, the far right, and her hate group attorneys, who falsely parroted the claim that because Stutzman was following her religious beliefs, the elderly florist may lose her business, her home, and her savings. It was a line repeated by many on the right. And it’s false.

“Barronelle Stutzman is now going to lose her business, her life savings, and possibly her own home for putting her faith into practice,” then-Fox News pundit Erick Erickson claimed, incorrectly, in 2015.

The State of Washington at one point tried to settle with Stutzman for $2000 but she refused, and with her activist Alliance Defending Freedom attorney, went to trial. A Washington judge found Stutzman violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination, and fined her $1000, $1 in legal costs, and enjoined her from further acts of discrimination.

Stutzman could have stopped pursuing legal channels, and agreed to follow the laws of the state her business operates in, but she refused. She could have settled for $1000, or $2000, but she refused.

She lost at every turn.

Her attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, which appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, fundraised off her case for years.

Now, it’s finally over – although Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch declared they would have taken up the case.

That the Supreme Court refused to hear this case reinforces that its ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case – the Colorado Baker, Jack Phillips, who “won” at the Supreme Court in an extremely narrow ruling – was not about the Court opposing the rights of LGBTQ people, it was what it said it was: the Supreme Court believed Phillips’ case was handled with animus against his religious rights by Colorado authorities.

Legal experts are weighing in on what some are calling a victory today. Some are optimistic, but the first take here is likely the correct one: the Supreme Court is not finished with the construct of LGBTQ rights vs. religious extremism.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern and Vox’s Ian Millhiser agree: right wing activists on the Supreme Court are being very selective about the LGBTQ rights case they want to take up, presumably so they can craft the anti-LGBTQ ruling in a manner they prefer.

Lambda Legal’s Legal Director and Chief Strategy Officer:

Supreme Court correspondent for The Economist:

Director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project:

 

 

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OPINION

COVID Disinformation Purveyor Sen. Ron Johnson Urges FDA to Not Grant Full Approval to Coronavirus Vaccine

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Senator Ron Johnson has written a letter to the FDA criticizing the Biden Administration for “rushing the approval process” for political reasons, reports the conservative Washington Times.

Johnson has repeatedly earned his “Ron Anon” nickname throughout the pandemic as an opponent of vaccines (while denying he’s an anti-vaxxer) and other COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The most recent spike in cases and deaths caused by the Delta variant haven’t slowed his roll.

The Washington Times reported on the contents of his letter, which it said it had obtained exclusively:

“The Wisconsin Republican warned against the Food and Drug Administration’s pending approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected Monday.

“He said the fast-track decision appeared more political than scientific since it skipped the usual formal advisory committee meeting and did not fully account for the reports of deaths and disabilities suffered by people after being vaccinated.

“‘I see no need to rush the FDA approval process for any of the three COVID-19 vaccines. Expediting the process appears to only serve the political purpose of imposing and enforcing vaccine mandates.'”

In the letter, Johnson also charged that “over the last year and a half, the decisions of federal health agencies have dramatically affected the lives of all Americans. The impact of these decisions has been felt in Americans’ treatment options, employment, schools, housing and travel, and in countless other ways. The human toll of the social restrictions and economic devastation is incalculable.”

The Washington Times did report this from the Biden administration:

“U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told “Fox News Sunday” that moving the Pfizer vaccine from “emergency” to “full approval” would make mandates more appealing.” There are universities and businesses that have been considering putting in vaccine requirements in order to create a safer, a workplace, a learning environment,” he said. “I think this announcement from the FDA would likely encourage them and make them feel more comfortable in putting some requirements in place.”

Johnson’s stature as a de facto spokesperson for the virus has long been documented. Last month, Washington Post fact checkers gave Johnson four Pinocchios for his campaign of vaccine misinformation. It quoted this bizarre claim from Johnson in a July 14 interview on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

The fact of the matter is it looks like natural immunity is as strong if not stronger than vaccinated immunity. … There is a risk to the vaccine. Again, it’s very small, but there are some pretty serious side effects, including death. We are already over 5,200 deaths reported on the VAERS system. That’s a CDC, FDA’s early warning system.”

“Johnson has emerged as the leading vaccine skeptic in Congress this year,” the Post reported. “For months, the senator has been peddling misinformation about coronavirus vaccines, undeterred by fact checkers, federal health agencies, medical experts and a growing body of scientific research. We previously dug into two Johnson claims that resurfaced in this interview on Fox News, a network whose right-wing personalities consistently bash the Biden administration’s vaccination efforts.

A month earlier, in June, there was this from CNN: “YouTube suspended Johnson’s account after it posted a video of the senator making dubious claims about treatments for the coronavirus. In the video, Johnson voiced support for using hydroxychloroquine against the virus, the same drug Donald Trump enthusiastically endorsed and used as a preventative treatment for coronavirus last year.”

It has all been part of a pandemic-long quest for Johnson to stoke support from the Trump base. Among his most notable strange moments, Johnson brought forth a parade of dubious doctors at a December Senate hearing on the pandemic for the purpose of “elevating fringe theories,” in the polite words of the New York Times. Johnson was so repulsive that he even bridged the partisan divide on the subject. Here’s more from newspaper:

“Mr. Johnson’s inflammatory public statements and his decision to give a platform to an assortment of contrarian doctors promoting alternative treatments have also irked some fellow Republicans, who have privately groused that he is acting irresponsibly.”

 

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OPINION

‘#TrumpIsALaughingStock’ Trends as Americans Mock Right Wingers’ Belief Today Would Be #TrumpReinstatement Day

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According to the QAnon crowd, the far right fanatics, the MyPillow cultists, and MAGA maniacs, August 13 is the day Donald Trump would be “reinstated” as president. And while the day is not over yet, there is exactly zero chance “the former guy” is going to be back in the White House any time soon.

“The morning of August 13 it’ll be the talk of the world,” MyPillow CEO and election fraud conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell has claimed.

Americans will not see a shadow “cabinet” or anyone else declaring “martial law” and bringing Donald Trump back into power. There will be no Supreme Court decision kicking President Joe Biden to the curb. And Democrats will not be rounded up as “traitors” and jailed – or worse.

Instead, many Americans will have – and already are having – a field day reveling in mocking the insanity that has come to represent the Republican Party, as #TrumpIsALaughingStock, #TrumpReinstatement, and other amusing hashtags trend on social media.

Trump’s spokesperson, still allowed to tweet out his press releases, posted one on Friday that appeared to acknowledge the conspiracy theory he would be reinstated. After blasting President Joe Biden, it asks, “DO YOU MISS ME YET?”

For many the answer is “no.”

Here are some of the best takes:

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OPINION

Trumpist Terrorism Is Becoming Normalized: Signorile

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In the past three weeks we learned of two violent domestic terror plots by Trump supporters to overthrow the government

This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.

A very particular, cultish and dangerous brand of domestic terrorism has been honed, and we should call it what it is: Trumpist terrorism.

We’ve rarely if ever experienced domestic terrorism organized not only in the service an ideology — white supremacy — but in the name of one person, a cult figure for whom people will kill and die, devoted to his cause and taking perceived orders from him.

But that is what is happening now.

Last week the news broke that two California men were arrested for plotting to bomb Sacramento’s Democratic headquarters in the name of Donald Trump, inspired by the Big Lie that the election was stolen by Joe Biden. One of the men is alleged to have had five live pipe bombs in his home and “between 45 and 50 firearms, including at least three fully automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.”

That man, Ian Rogers, also wrote in text messages, before the January 20th inauguration of President Biden, which one agent said showed an attempt to try to stop the inauguration from proceeding:

I hope 45 goes to war if he doesn’t I will…

…I want to blow up a Democrat building bad…

…Sad it’s come to this but I’m not going down without a fight…

…These commies need to be told what’s up…

The men were organizing both before and after the January 6th Capitol assault, and discussed other targets including California’s governors mansion, the corporate offices of Facebook and Twitter and Democratic donor George Soros.

In a different time this would be wall to wall media coverage, with strong condemnations coming from the former president himself, and from the leaders of his party. But for much of the media, though they covered it, this was just another story in the blur of insurrection-related stories — including the story of a Virginia insurrectionist group exposed the week before, planning for a “revolution”and led by a man who stormed the Capitol on January 6th and now had the components for 50 homemade bombs.

Needless to say, there was no condemnation statement by the former president — who likely revels in these stories — nor from any Republican Party leader. Even Democratic leaders seemed too busy dealing with all the other assaults on democracy by Republicans to speak out forcefully about these cases.

Trumpist terrorism is becoming normalized.

It’s now expected that people will engage in violence in the name of a former president of the United States. That’s a blood-curdling reality, but in America right now it’s not very shocking, nor surprising. And the greater danger is that if the outcry isn’t loud enough — if we don’t express outrage no matter how commonplace it now may appear — then it will not only be expected; it will be accepted. More and more extremists will be inspired to take up arms, to organize plots to cause massive violence in the name of Trump, hoping for bigger, more disruptive events to break through.

 

Read the entire article and subscribe at The Signorile Report.

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