The Supreme Court and Cake

The Supreme Court and Cake
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Five years have passed since a Colorado baker of cakes refused to create one of his masterpieces for two men who wanted it to celebrate their  “marriage.”  It’s hard to believe that this incident is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. But it is, and the fact that it has reached such heights indicates how far our nation has descended toward destruction of common sense and the commonly held values that formerly undergirded our nation.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons by Michael Prudhomme, CakesMadeEasy.com under the terms GNU Free Documentation License.

Cake maker Jack Phillips says he has a right to refuse the business of a particular customer whose fundamental intention is not to purchase a decorated cake but to use the transaction to force acceptance of homosexual “marriage.” On religious grounds, he doesn’t approve of “gay marriage” and his refusal to build a fancy cake for a homosexual duo supposedly violates a portion of the U.S. Constitution banning discrimination. I searched but I couldn’t find the particular part of the Constitution on which this case is built. Legal beagles claim it’s discrimination, and that’s something terribly bad. Half a century ago, discrimination was so highly regarded that the Herbert-Tareyton cigarette company advertised its product as “the cigarette for discriminating people.” And a common assessment of the esteem accorded discrimination back then insisted that the only people who don’t discriminate “are prostitutes and fools.”

Sadly, commonly held attitudes of 50 years ago have been pushed aside in the rush to overturn cultural, religious, and even economic mores. Some would claim this development to be “progress.” But that’s another word whose meaning has been turned upside down.

Shouldn’t Jack Phillips have a right to refuse the business of someone who walks into his store and intends, not so much to buy a cake, but to have the planned transaction force acceptance of something abhorred by Phillips and many others? Why does Phillips have to provide an approved reason for saying “No” to a potential customer he knows has an agenda that far exceeds buying a cake? Isn’t his business his property, his “castle,” a place where his right to refuse entry to someone is supposed to be sacrosanct?

A deeper look into this matter shows that the homosexual couple seeking a cake from Phillips planned to have it at their ceremony in New York, not in Colorado. They obviously chose to challenge the Lakewood, Colorado, baker’s distaste for gay marriage. So, the issue isn’t really one of mere refusal to do business with someone. It’s about forcing acceptance of homosexual marriage. By definition, marriage has always been the union of one man and one woman. Homosexual marriage is no more a “marriage” than labeling something water when it isn’t a combination of hydrogen and oxygen.

It’s no surprise to find a spokesman for the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) division taking the side of the supposedly aggrieved cake customers. James Essex of the ACLU claims: “You have freedom to believe and to preach your faith until your actions harm other people.” Does refusal to cooperate with the demands of homosexuals amount to harm? If so, what about possible harm done to a baker who refuses to participate, even in a slight way, in a practice he considers reprehensible, even sinful? Also, what about harming the moral character of this nation?

The Supreme Court will hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in the fall. The case progressed from rulings at lower levels favoring the claims of the two men who insist that they are victims of unjust discrimination. Phillips’s attorney David Cortman rightly states, “Every American should be free to choose which art they will create and which art they won’t create without fear of being unjustly punished by the government.”

That makes sense, of course. But good sense doesn’t always prevail, especially when so much more than discrimination is at stake. The high court’s willingness to rule in this case about cake signals that there are far more important matters at stake.

Are you receiving our free weekly e-newsletter? Sign up today! Be sure to also get our free Top Daily Headlines from The New American.


McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American


An Opportunity To Abolish Compulsory Unionism

An Opportunity To Abolish Compulsory Unionism
By JBS President John F. McManus

As far back as 1786, Thomas Jefferson stated an elementary principle much in need of restating today. He said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.” Are any Americans being forced to finance what they abhor? They certainly are.

Labor unions extract dues amounting to approximately $8 billion annually from 11 million workers who are forced by federal law into their grasp as a condition of employment. Huge unions then spend more than a billion dollars each election cycle to finance candidates for political office who will support their big government agenda. Many workers oppose both the politicians financed by the unions and the left-wing causes that fill Big Labor’s agenda.

This process gained acceptance in 1935 with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act (often referred to as the Wagner Act because its chief sponsor was New York Senator Robert Wagner). The law effectively made union membership a condition of employment wherever the union was certified as the employees’ exclusive bargaining agent. Although it was dubbed “the Magna Carta of Labor” by some, it was a gross denial of freedom. Labor unions should never have been awarded power to compel membership.

In 1947, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act intending to correct the process of forcing workers into unions. It succeeded only partially. But it did allow states to pass what is called a “right to work” statute that voids compulsory union membership within its jurisdiction. There are currently 22 states where compelling a person to join a union as a condition of employment isn’t permitted. In the remaining 28 states, workers, many of whom don’t support labor-backed politicians and measures, are nevertheless forced via existing federal legislation to finance what they oppose.

Currently a measure sits on the Senate legislative calendar that would amend the Wagner Act and do away with the power of labor unions to compel membership. Introduced by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), S.204 has gained 26 Senate co-sponsors (all Republicans). Prominent Democrats Harry Reid (Nev.), Charles Schumer, (N.Y.), Diane Feinstein (Calif.), are among the strongest opponents of S.204 as its passage would result in a severe drop in labor union funding of their candidacies, those of their Democratic colleagues, and the left-wing causes they and the unions favor.

No one who opposes compulsory unionism opposes labor unions per se. If workers want to form a union, they should be able to do so. But forcing anyone to join, thereby compelling them to finance the wishes of union leaders can never be considered just. S. 204 should be enacted, sent to the House for its approval, and even backed sufficiently to overcome a certain veto from the current occupant of the White House.

For more about right to work, read The New American article “Right to Work Works!”