An unfortunate loss in Arizona. A win for the SPLC.

I think that the Arizona Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision in Brush & Nib Studio is idiotic. Reading the ruling it seems like four conservative judges incorporated Alliance Defending Freedom’s rhetoric into a ruling celebrating Christian privilege. The Court did not provide guidance to determine what is speech and what is conduct.

Some have called the ruling very narrow. I disagree. It opens the door to anyone claiming that their discriminatory conduct was merely the avoidance of compelled speech. Moreover, it awards a hate group (Alliance Defending Freedom) with a victory. One that they will use to raise funds and burnish their credibility.

Eugene Volokh signed onto an amicus brief in this case (along with Cato Institute and Dale Carpenter). I believe — but I am not certain — that he supported the stationer. Volokh and Carpenter filed an amicus brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop supporting the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Therein lies one of the problems. Why is the stationer an artiste while the baker is not?

The proprietors of Brush & Nib, Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, claim that their business is intended to serve their god. If that is the case then they should have incorporated a not-for-profit organization. As long as they are in business to make money they should be required to adhere to the same laws as everyone else.

Me? I would bake a cake for Westboro Baptist Church. I would have no problem decorating it with “God hates fags and Jews.” On the receipt I might write: “ADL and the Human Rights Campaign appreciate your donation.” I am a proponent of take their money and then tell them to go fuck themselves.

On a happier note, when the Southern Poverty Law Center wins one, we win one. In January, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) sued Richard Cohen and Heidi Beirich. Cohen was then president of the SPLC. Dr. Beirich runs the intelligence project. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. According to CIS:

This is a civil RICO lawsuit by Center for Immigration Studies (“Plaintiff” or “CIS”) against
two individuals who operate the Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”) and have used it
to harm CIS by falsely designating it as a “hate group.”

Last Friday the suit was dismissed. In her ruling, Judge Amy Berman Jackson stated that: “The Court finds that plaintiff has failed to allege the predicate offense and a pattern of racketeering necessary for a RICO claim. Thus, plaintiff’s lawsuit fails and the Court need not address defendants’ other arguments.”

Judge Jackson also stated that the, “Plaintiff’s allegations do not lend support for its legal conclusion that defendants engaged in a ‘scheme to defraud.’ Significantly, the complaint is devoid of any allegation that defendants made a statement that was false.” Noting specifically that:

  • “First, defendants’ designation does not concern a ‘fact’ – whether or not SPLC adhered to its definition to designate CIS to be a hate group is an entirely subjective inquiry. Indeed, when SPLC designated CIS a hate group according to its own definition – and not some legal or government definition – it was announcing that, in its view, CIS is a hate group.
  • “Second, plaintiff has clearly tried to shoehorn a defamation claim into the RICO framework. But the D.C. Circuit has observed that a plaintiff ‘complaining about a defamatory statement cannot end-run the requirements for a defamation claim’ by pleading it as a RICO violation.”

A similar complaint by Coral Ridge Ministries filed in the Middle District of Alabama has been on the docket for over two years. The following is the second-to-last entry on the docket:

An opinion will issue very shortly. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 8/23/2019. (wcl, ) (Entered: 08/23/2019)

Judge Thompson’s understanding of what “very shortly” means is quite different from mine. #Ugh.

The last entry on the docket is the advisory by the SPLC of the decision in Center for Immigration Studies dated September 16. Coral Ridge Ministries is designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the SPLC.

Related content:

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.