It’s been a while since I posted a new blog. Most of my energies have been spent in recent months focused on my family and my church. Even on social media platforms where I am rather active, I haven’t had a lot to say about recent Supreme Court decisions but overall am pleased with them. To say things would be different had Hilary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election is a monumental understatement. Here are a few thoughts:
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission & Arlene’s Flowers Inc. v. Washington: Make no mistake, the Court punted on these decisions. In the Masterpiece Cakeshop, the court took exception to the blatant bias against Jack Phillips shown by Colorado Civil Rights Commission and not the actual unconstitutional decision that commission reached. In the Arlene’s Flowers case, the court simply said see what we said about Masterpiece Cakeshop. There is nothing preventing either situation to happen again in their respective jurisdictions or elsewhere across the nation.
In Carpenter v. United States, the Court said the government must have a warrant to obtain location data from mobile phone users and in the Collins v. Virginia case the Court ruled – both 4th Amendment cases – the Court ruled that an exception allowing a warrantless search was not valid (yes… I’ve heard the howls from law enforcement concerning these two decisions and have yet to hear a persuasive argument against either). My takeaway from these four cases: process matters…for the time being at least.
National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra: in this case, the state of California attempted to force pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to advertise abortions to the very people they are trying to serve. The fact that SCOTUS found that the California law violated the 1st Amendment is not surprising nor is the fact that the liberal state government there tried to do so in the first place. My takeaway from this case: free speech and free exercise of religion still matters…even in California.
In Trump v. Hawaii, the Court finally put to rest the question about the power of the President to regulate who may and may not enter the United States based on national security concerns. Facts are friends is something I like to regularly point out and this ruling did exactly that. Some tried to characterize the travel ban as a Muslim ban yet the countries in the ban represent only 8% of the Muslim population worldwide. My takeaway: acknowledging that someone has the authority to do take an action is not the same thing as agreeing with the action taken.
There are other cases but this is enough to make one last point: President Obama was absolutely right when he said, “elections have consequences.” The impact of Justice Neil Gorsuch in the coming years will be extraordinary.