Understanding the Supreme Court’s Latest Case about Religious Conviction and Same-Sex Marriage

This week, the Supreme Court heard the case of 303 Creative, a small Colorado-based web-design business whose owner, out of religious conviction, does not wish to produce wedding websites for same-sex couples. The company currently refrains from creating any wedding websites, lest it run afoul of the state’s anti-discrimination laws, but it has taken to the courts to challenge the law on First Amendment grounds. As Michael A. Helfand observes, the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in the very similar case of Masterpiece Cakeshop was so narrowly defined that it leaves much room for further litigation. He explains what is at stake:

In taking on 303 Creative v. Elenis . . . the Court chose to limit its inquiry to the free-speech questions raised by the case, leaving to the side questions of religious liberty. . . . The most essential question underlying 303 Creative’s free-speech claims is whether making this sort of wedding website ought to be considered speech. If it is speech, then a law requiring someone to design a particular wedding website, under threat of financial penalty, would presumably run afoul of the “compelled speech” doctrine.

But while this sort of inquiry might normally be quite challenging, the current case may have less than meets the eye. . . . If all parties agree creating the website and graphics are expressive, then creating wedding websites is a form of speech, and requiring 303 Creative to make such a website for a same-sex couple would amount to compelling speech in violation of the First Amendment.

Where does this leave us? It might mean we’ll end up with a relatively narrow opinion, [but] this isn’t to say such a result wouldn’t have real impact. When it comes to questions of religious discrimination, for example, web designers and artists who make custom—and expressive—products could potentially refuse to sell services on the basis of religious affiliation. A Christian web designer could potentially refuse to make a wedding website for Jews, or a Jewish web designer could refuse to make a wedding website for an interfaith couple.

Read more at Forward

More about: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Gay marriage, Supreme Court


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security