1. The Supreme Court’s Half-Baked Cake, Kennedy saves a baker from anti-religious bias he said couldn’t happen. 

By The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2018, Pg. A14, Review & Outlook

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Monday for a baker who refused to custom-bake a cake for a same-sex wedding out of sincere religious belief. Hold the champagne—this apparent victory for religious freedom may be short-lived.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in legalizing same-sex marriage in Obergefell (2015), the “First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faith.” Therefore, he predicted, the decision would pose “no risk of harm to themselves or third parties.”

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission has forced Justice Kennedy to eat those words.

Though Justice Kennedy rescued Mr. Phillips from the prejudice that he said in Obergefell couldn’t happen, the writing may be on the wedding cake. Four liberal Justices aren’t content with the right to same-sex marriage; they want to coerce everyone else to celebrate it no matter their religious beliefs, and politicians will follow.

The fundamental constitutional issue may have to be settled by a post-Kennedy Court, while lower courts in the meantime will decide case by case whether governments can compel religious people to endorse conduct with which they disagree. Masterpiece Cakeshop won’t go down in history as a legal masterpiece.


2. A mixed judgment on LGTB rights. 

By The Washington Post, June 5, 2018, Pg. A20, Editorial

THE SUPREME COURT temporized on Monday on a major question of LGBT civil rights — specifically, whether a state can require a wedding-cake baker to sell his products to same-sex couples as he does to heterosexual couples. Avoiding a sweeping decision, the justices nevertheless laid the foundations for a more ambitious ruling in the future. Businesses cannot pick and choose their customers based on race. States should be able to extend that simple fairness to LGBT people, too. The court on Monday came closer to saying so.

The case could have tested how far states can go in requiring fairness for LGBT people in the public marketplace. But the majority opinion dodged the question, instead condemning the state’s Civil Rights Commission for improper reasoning in applying Colorado’s anti-discrimination law. The government “cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. In considering the baker’s case, the commission “was neither tolerant nor respectful of [baker Jack] Phillips’ religious beliefs.”

Finally, Mr. Kennedy warned that the court could not, in the future, rule expansively in favor of a baker’s religious claims, “lest all purveyors of goods and services who object to gay marriages for moral and religious reasons in effect be allowed to put up signs saying ‘no goods or services will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages,’ something that would impose a serious stigma on gay persons.”

It might take more time, but the court is heading in the right direction.


3. Gay Adoption Fight Looms After Supreme Court’s Cake Ruling. 

By Reuters, June 5, 2018

A major legal fight similar to the blockbuster Christian baker case decided by the Supreme Court on Monday is already brewing in several U.S. states over laws allowing private agencies to block gay couples from adoptions or taking in foster children.

Nine states have laws allowing state-funded, religiously affiliated adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay people based on religious beliefs. Republican-governed Kansas and Oklahoma passed such laws this year. Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia all have similar laws.

Legal challenges to those laws, some pending in lower courts, eventually could come to the Supreme Court. The high court’s ruling on narrow grounds in favor of baker Jack Phillips did not spell out the circumstances under which religious objections to discrimination claims would have legal merit.

Separately, Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia sued the city last month after municipal officials stopped placing children with the group, part of the city’s Roman Catholic archdiocese, over its religious objections to gay marriage.


4. Poland tries to hold footing as Catholic Church shifts. 

By Karol Bulski and Austin Davis, The Washington Times, June 5, 2018, Pg. A1

During the long period of communist rule in Poland, the Catholic Church was seen as an institution embodying the resiliency of the nation’s identity, a pragmatic counterforce to a repressive, officially atheistic regime.

But today, as the Catholic Church of Pope Francis has embraced a liberal version of the faith stressing modernity and pluralism, the Polish Catholic Church has pulled an about-face, positioning itself as an anchor for traditional values — and an ally of the government here — in the face of liberal demands for change.

In one of the West’s most heavily Catholic countries, the Polish church has embraced and defended the socially conservative policies of the nation’s nationalist government, dividing an overwhelmingly Catholic body politic striving to revive links to Western Europe and liberal political current while trying to protect Poland’s uniqueness and historical legacy.

The balancing act, however, has led many Poles to question their faith.

The Polish church is not monolithic. Divisions surfaced in January when the Rev. Ludwik Wisniewski, an 81-year-old Dominican priest, published a sharp attack on the government and the Polish Catholic hierarchy for driving away the faithful with divisive policies and hostility toward immigrants.

Refugee crisis

The phenomenon has only intensified with the political success of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, whose socially conservative and nationalist stances have increasingly mirrored those of the Catholic Church in an attempt to present itself as the party of Polish identity.

The 2015 refugee crisis that brought millions of asylum seekers to Europe only exacerbated the development. Resentment against what were seen as EU dictates from Brussels were expressed in countries across Eastern Europe, but the political force of the Catholic Church gave Poland’s resistance a different flavor.

Though Poland has settled few refugees compared with Germany and other European nations, the Catholic Church and Law and Justice party officials have stoked fears of increasing Islamic influence in the nation.


5. High court nixes abortion rights ruling for illegals, Sends down unsigned opinion to reset decision. 

By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, June 5, 2018, Pg. A4

The Supreme Court on Monday erased a lower court’s ruling that had granted abortion rights to illegal immigrant teens being held in government custody, ordering the lower court to reset the case.

The ruling, delivered in an unsigned opinion, is a victory for the Trump administration, which had asked for the reset, saying the circuit court of appeals bungled the issue last year when it established a right to abortion for illegal immigrants.

But while the justices nixed that ruling, they did not weigh in on the actual constitutional rights question, instead sending the case back to the lower judges to see how things play out.

The case stems from the surge of Unaccompanied Alien Children, known in government-speak as UAC, who have stormed the U.S.-Mexico border over the last five years. They arrive without their parents and, under current policy, are quickly processed and released to social workers at the Health and Human Services Department. The social workers usually put the UAC in dorms while trying to find sponsors to take them — either relatives already in the U.S. or foster parents.

At least 420 pregnant UAC were caught in 2017. Just 18 of them requested abortions and 11 actually had an abortion, according to records filed with the federal district court in Washington, D.C., last year.


6. Justices side with Colorado baker on same-sex wedding cake. 

By Mark Sherman, Associated Press, June 4, 2018, 10:13 PM

The Supreme Court ruled Monday for a Colorado baker who wouldn’t make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in a limited decision that leaves for another day the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay and lesbian people.

The justices’ decision turned on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The justices voted 7-2 that the commission violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment.

The case had been eagerly anticipated as, variously, a potentially strong statement about the rights of LGBT people or the court’s first ruling carving out exceptions to an anti-discrimination law. In the end, the decision was modest enough to attract the votes of liberal and conservative justices on a subject that had the potential for sharp division.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the larger issue “must await further elaboration” in the courts.


7. High court rules in favor of baker in same-sex wedding cake case. 

By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, June 4, 2018, 12:47 PM

In a 7-2 decision June 4, the Supreme Court sided with a Colorado baker in a case that put anti-discrimination laws up against freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression.

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with the Catholic Association, a group that emphasizes religious freedom, described the court’s ruling as a “clear win for religious liberty and expression.”

In other immediate reaction: Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Phillips, praised the court for showing that “government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society.”


8. Colorado Made the Masterpiece Case Easy for the Court. 

By Robert P. George, Mr. George is a professor and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton, The New York Times, June 4, 2018

Jack Phillips, the baker who refused to provide cakes for Halloween festivities, divorce parties or events celebrating same-sex relationships has carried the day in the Supreme Court. In the end, the vote wasn’t even close: 7-2.

The records of its proceedings were filled with statements by members expressing hostility to Christian teachings on marriage and sexual morality and casting aspersions on Mr. Phillips’s faith and motives. 

So what does the decision mean? Has the court discovered a constitutional right of business owners and service providers to discriminate on religious grounds against homosexuals or people in same-sex relationships? No. Not a single member of the court drew any such conclusion. Nor did it resolve the bigger question that this case raised: What does the Constitution require when such prohibitions on discrimination conflict with business owners’ religiously informed dictates of conscience?

This much, however, is clear: Business owners and others have no obligation under the Constitution, nor can one be imposed by statute, to confine their religion to the private domain. 

But much remains unresolved. Did the constitutional problem with the commission’s actions derive solely from its members’ motives? Would the fining of Mr. Phillips have been acceptable based purely on a judgment that his refusal to cater same-sex celebrations constituted discrimination based on sexual orientation, and not on the basis of antipathy to Mr. Phillips’s beliefs?

Finally, there is the issue of free speech — or, rather, the constitutional prohibition of compelled speech. Did the Colorado commission run afoul of the Constitution by attempting to compel Jack Phillips in his role as a custom cake designer to, in effect, engage in artistic expression he did not wish to engage in, and in that way to at least implicitly endorse something he morally opposes?

Because the justices were easily able to award the victory to Mr. Phillips on free exercise of religion grounds, the court didn’t fully grapple with this important issue. Several of the justices noted it, but it remains unresolved.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that it won’t stay that way for long.


9. High court rules in dispute over immigrant teen’s abortion. 

By Jessica Gresko, Associated Press, June 4, 2018, 9:58 PM

The Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case about a pregnant immigrant teen who obtained an abortion with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, siding with the Trump administration and wiping away a lower court decision for the teen but rejecting a suggestion her lawyers should be disciplined.

The decision is about the teen’s individual case and doesn’t affect an ongoing class-action case about the ability of immigrant teens in government custody to obtain abortions, the ACLU said. The justices ruled in an unsigned opinion that vacating a lower court decision in favor of the teen, who had been in government custody after entering the country illegally, was the proper course because the case became moot after she obtained an abortion.

Government lawyers had complained to the Supreme Court that attorneys for the ACLU didn’t alert them that the teen’s abortion would take place earlier than expected. The administration said that deprived its lawyers of the chance to ask the Supreme Court to block the procedure, at least temporarily. The Trump administration told the court that discipline might be warranted against the teen’s attorneys. The ACLU said its lawyers did nothing wrong.

The Supreme Court said it took the government’s allegations “seriously” but the court declined to wade into the finger-pointing between the sides.


10. Two-year process to revise bishops’ protection charter nears completion. 

By Peter Finney Jr., Catholic News Service, June 4, 2018

The chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People said a two-year project to revise the charter that guides the U.S. Church in protecting minors from sexual abuse is nearly ready to be presented to the full body of bishops.

Lafayette Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, the committee chairman, told the 13th annual Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference in New Orleans that the proposed revisions of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” will be discussed and voted on at the bishops’ June 13-14 spring general assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“We’ve done a lot of nice work over the last two years,” Doherty said. “The great thing people should know is that this has been a collaboration among a lot of bishops’ committees and the National Review Board, who are professional people – judges, lawyers, therapists, trauma experts. There’s a lot of healthy conversation there, and our church can be very proud of the people who are working toward the protection of children.”