The United States Supreme Court ruled Friday that Colorado cannot force Christian graphic designer Lorie Smith to create art that violates her religious beliefs, particularly her belief that marriage necessarily entails the union between a man and a woman.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, noted, "The First Amendment’s protections belong to all, not just to speakers whose motives the government finds worthy."
Democratic Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is evidently of a different mind, indicating in an interview over the weekend that the court's prioritization of Americans' constitutional rights over ideological conformity is problematic.
Buttigieg spoke to CBS' Margaret Brennan on "Face the Nation" about a number issues Sunday, including the airline disruptions neither he nor his department appears capable of resolving.
Brennan raised the matter of the Supreme Court's June 30 decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, then cited Buttigieg's reactive tweet, which read, "Discrimination is wrong. Using religion as an excuse to discriminate is wrong - and unconstitutional. The Court's minority is right: the Constitution is no license for a business to discriminate. Today's ruling will move America backward."
"Justice Gorsuch said this was a First Amendment issue where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands," said Brennan. "What do you make of the argument that Colorado was labeling free speech as discrimination in order to censor it?"
Buttigieg suggested that cases such as graphic designer Lorie Smith's "are designed to get people spun up and designed to chip away at rights."
In Smith's case, Buttigieg appears to have been referencing the "right" of LGBT activists to call upon the state to force an artist to generate artwork or messaging she finds morally compromising.
"You look at Friday's decision diminishing the equality of same-sex couples. You look at a number of the decisions that have been made; they pose a question that is even deeper than these big cases. And the question is this: Did we just live to see the high water mark of freedoms and rights in this country before they were gradually taken away?" said Buttigieg.
The openly gay Biden secretary, who adopted two children with his "husband," further suggested that the court's ruling jeopardized the generational accretion of rights that has "added up and affected so many people, including me, of course, as I'm getting ready to go back to my husband and our twins for the rest of this morning, thinking about the fact that the existence of our family is is only a reality because of a one-vote margin on the Supreme Court a few years ago."
Buttigieg stressed that the Supreme Court is "very much out of step with how most Americans view these issues."
The Supreme Court has long served America as a countermajoritarian institution, upholding the Constitution even when "out of step" with public opinion.
For instance, the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which saw U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools struck down as unconstitutional, was a deeply unpopular decision at the time. This was especially true of southern Democrats, such as Sen. Harry Byrd Sr. of Virginia, who reckoned the court was out of step with popular opinion and worked ardently to prevent desegregation.
One of the primary reasons Supreme Court justices and other federal judges appointed under Article III of the Constitution hold their posts for life is to spare them from having to pander to the mob — or as Alexander Hamilton put it in Federalist No. 78, to preclude them from developing "too great a disposition to consult popularity."
Brennan also asked Buttigieg about the provocative analogies in the amicus brief co-signed by 20 senators and 48 House members that Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Mike Lee (Utah) co-led, which said, "Compelling an individual to use her artistic and intellectual capabilities to create a message she opposes is the most odious form of compelled expression. Such laws coerce writers and artists into 'betraying their convictions.' ... They are the tool of totalitarian regimes, not the United States."
The brief compared the imposition of Colorado's coercive law on Smith to the requirement that an atheist musician perform at an evangelical church service or a Muslim tattoo artist be "forced to write 'My religion is the only true religion' on the body of a Christian."
Buttigieg responded, "That's really not a comparison that is relevant to this case. But more importantly, I think it's really telling that you have to think of these far-fetched hypotheticals in order to justify decisions that are actually going to have much worse impacts in the real world. And I think this, again, goes back to the broader agenda of the culture wars that are being fired up."
TheBlaze previously reported that President Joe Biden, like his DOT secretary, is upset over the court's ruling in this case.
"While the Court’s decision only addresses expressive original designs, I'm deeply concerned that the decision could invite more discrimination against LGBTQI+ Americans. More broadly, today’s decision weakens long-standing laws that protect all Americans against discrimination in public accommodations – including people of color, people with disabilities, people of faith, and women," Biden said in a statement.