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.
If you’re wondering why SCOTUS did not take up Arlene’s Flowers and grant businesses a sweeping First Amendment right to discriminate against LGBTQ people, I think this is a good theory. ADF’s lawyers are really terrible. Becket’s are excellent. https://t.co/Hauz5MsLTW
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) July 2, 2021
Lambda Legal’s Legal Director and Chief Strategy Officer:
The denial of cert (at long last) in Arlene’s Flowers is welcome news indeed. Remember that case was sent back for further review after Masterpiece Cakeshop. WA SCT gave this case another careful examination & reached same conclusion. Now it’s finally over. Yay. https://t.co/X2a8yqy8MC
— Sharon_McGowan (@SharonMcGowanDC) July 2, 2021
Supreme Court correspondent for The Economist:
This is surprising because (1) 6 members of the Court have shown substantial deference to claims for religious exemptions; (2) it takes only 4 votes to hear a case; & (3) justices commonly give a courtesy 4th vote when 3 want to hear it. No “J-4” from Roberts, Kavanaugh, Barrett. https://t.co/1jfa4Og5js
— Steven Mazie (@stevenmazie) July 2, 2021
Director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project:
Hopeful signs: SCOTUS not only refused to create a constitutional license to discriminate in Fulton v. Philadelphia, but this morning it denied review in Arlene’s Flowers, where WA S.Ct. had said there is no such right.
The result: businesses need to remain open to all!
— James Esseks (@JamesEsseks) July 2, 2021
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‘Never Forget’: Critics Blast ‘Senator Sedition Fist’ Josh Hawley on Anniversary of His Fox News Insurrection Threat
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), whose fist-in-the-sky photo taken in front of the Capitol January 6 became emblematic of Donald Trump’s insurrection, is being raked over the coals as Americans remember the threat he delivered in a Fox News interview just one year ago today.
When you look up traitor in the dictionary you should find this picture of Josh Hawley taken January 6th. pic.twitter.com/x2C1QMmEMn
— Chris Hahn (@ChristopherHahn) January 4, 2022
Here he is, talking on January 4 last year with Fox News’ Bret Baier, who bluntly told him “Congress doesn’t have the right to overturn” the election.
Hawley then countered with a misreading of the Constitution, but his claim that Trump could remain president depending “on what happens on Wednesday,” January 6, is to many chilling:
That video, first posted one year ago today, has gone viral:
BRET BAIER: I want to pin you down on what you’re trying to do. Are you trying to say that Trump will be president after January 20?
JOSH HAWLEY: Well, that depends on what happens on Wednesday
BAIER: No it doesn’t
(Trump in fact lost an election!) pic.twitter.com/vsO2JyRJuk
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 5, 2021
“Never forget exactly 1 year ago today, Josh Hawley was on Fox spreading the big lie for Trump,” wrote on social media user. “He’s as guilty as anyone when it comes to the insurrection & if we lose the house in ’22, people like this Hitler wannabee will be first in line to overthrow democracy.”
“Hard to believe Senator Sedition Fist, aka Josh Hawley, is still a sitting Senator after this,” said another.
Other responses include:
“Josh Hawley is a dangerous fascist and he needs to answer for his crimes from January 6th.”
“Raise your hand if Josh Hawley is a seditious traitor who should be expelled from Congress ASAP!”
“We don’t talk about it enough, but Josh Hawley attempted to stop the certification of a presidential election and incited the attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
“A year isn’t enough time to forget that Josh Hawley (along with Grassley, Cruz, and others) spread misinformation about the election and even made statements implying that they expected it to be overturned. All of them traitors!”
A few more:
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Defeated President, Donald Trump@FBI Here ya go! https://t.co/GBLTUp2jtU
— Pridegoesbeforethefall (@moderateresist) January 4, 2022
Josh Hawley was the 1st Senator to say he would NOT certify #Biden as President! Hawley wanted to get ahead of every Repub, including #TedCruz, to get attention! 3 Senators have been expelled & it was over the Civil War! #JoshHawley & Cruz should be EXPELLED for this coup plot!!
— Dan Pereira (@ddanpereira) January 4, 2022
Never forget Josh Hawley’s role in all of this. https://t.co/uJj02Jfepp
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) January 4, 2022
Don Jr. Suggests Trump’s New Social Media Site Was Created to Help Republicans Win Elections
Donald Trump, Jr. is appearing to suggest his father’s new social media platform, Truth Social, was created to help Republicans win elections.
Appearing on far right host Sebastian Gorka’s Newsmax show that aired Sunday, Trump Jr. was asked in a segment about the new social media site what his “specific message” is “to those who had just kind of given up on the idea of America and free and fair elections.”
Trump Jr. did not hesitate.
“Let’s stay in the game,” he replied, after discussing Truth Social for several minutes and urging viewers to join. “I mean, you know, these are all steps that we’re taking to make sure that we can level that playing field, the playing field has been so biased for so long, right?” he claimed.
“We’ve been playing T ball while the other side has been playing hardball and doing whatever it takes,” Trump Jr. said, despite some Republicans working to overturn the free and fair 2020 presidential election.
“You know, Donald Trump opened the door for conservatives to start pushing back, to play the game the way the other side has done it. We need to keep doing that, we need to stay in this game. They would love for us just to tuck tail to run to turn the other cheek to be dejected, to take our ball and go home. We can’t allow that to happen, we have to stay in the game we have to stay involved we have to be vocal and we have to be unafraid.”
And even though Facebook was formed in 2004, Twitter in 2006, Microsoft in 1980, and Apple in 1976, he also seemed to suggest that “Big Tech” or social media platforms have been working against Republicans for 50 years.
“And if we do that and you look at what’s going on right now with the insanity of this administration and all of the leftist agenda, you realize, Americans are waking up. It’s about time, but they’re finally doing it and we’re actually able to put up a front against a huge, huge platform that has been working against us, for half a century.”
How will Truth Social level the playing field against Big Tech? @DonaldJTrumpJr lets us know.
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) October 23, 2021
COVID Disinformation Purveyor Sen. Ron Johnson Urges FDA to Not Grant Full Approval to Coronavirus Vaccine
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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