Tag Archives: first amendment

US Supreme Court Overturns Oregon Court in Case of ‘Sweet Cakes’ Baker Put Out of Business for Refusing to Make Cake for Gay Wedding

Image: Federalist Papers

Christian bakers, Melissa and Aaron Klein, have won a round in the U.S. Supreme Court. While the nation’s highest court didn’t take the case, it vacated the Oregon Appeals Court’s decision upholding the $135,000 fine and decision against the Kleins for refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding. The case has been sent back to the Oregon Appeals Court for a rehearing. The Oregon court previously said the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) was correct in fining the couple for failing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The fine and subsequent public bashing by the former BOLI chief, Brad Avakian, forced the couple to close their doors to the public.

The Kleins petitioned the Supreme Court in 2018 to take up their case after the Masterpiece Cake decision upheld a Colorado baker’s choice not to make a same sex wedding cake. In vacating the Oregon court decision and sending it back, the Supreme Court made it clear that the Masterpiece Cake decision changed the game and that the Oregon court should consider the new precedent in its decision on remand.

In their petition, the Kleins asked the Supreme Court to consider three things:

The questions presented are:
1. Whether Oregon violated the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment by compelling the Kleins to design and create a custom wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding ritual, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.
2. Whether the Court should overrule
Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990).
ii
3. Whether the Court should reaffirm Smith’s hybrid rights doctrine, applying strict scrutiny to free exercise claims that implicate other fundamental rights, and resolving the circuit split over the doctrine’s precedential status.

Scotusblog

The New York Times reports that the Klein’s were also asking a broader question than that posed in the Masterpiece Cakeshop lawsuit:

The Oregon case was in one way broader than the one from Colorado, as it asked the justices to overrule an important precedent from 1990, Employment Division v. Smith. In a majority opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court ruled that neutral laws of general applicability could not be challenged on the ground that they violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion.
That decision, arising from a case involving the use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies, is unpopular among conservative Christians, who say it does not offer adequate protection to religion, and with some justices. In January, the court’s four most conservative members — Justices Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — signaled that they were open to reconsidering the decision.

The New York Times

Based on the fact that the Supreme Court didn’t take the case, it’s clear they don’t want to answer that question just yet – unless the Oregon Appeals Court gives them a reason to.

During the well-publicized ordeal, former BOLI chief Brad Avakian publicly bashed the couple and instituted a gag order on the Kleins to stop defending themselves:

Respondents Aaron Klein and Melissa Klein to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation

Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries

Avakian’s obvious vendetta against the Christian couple caused even liberal Oregonians to turn against him. Avakian attempted to run for Secretary of State and lost to Republican Dennis Richardson, the first time a Republican had won state-wide office in decades.

The Klein’s were represented by the First Liberty Institute of Plano, Texas, Boyden Gray & Associates, of Washington, DC, and Herb Grey of Beaverton, Oregon. Emails seeking comment by the Kleins and their attorneys haven’t been returned yet, but this post will be updated as soon as they’re received.

No doubt this is a small measure of vindication for the couple whose business and reputations were destroyed by Avakian and the anti-Christian zealots working for the State of Oregon.

Here Are Emails & Flyers Showing Portland, Oregon Teachers & Administrators Organized ‘Student’ Anti-Gun Walk Outs & Why Parents Are Now Suing in Federal Court.

The Portland Public Schools and Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero are being sued in federal court for using tax money to orchestrate a mass anti-gun mass walk-out by students.

The civil rights lawsuit, brought by two sets of Portland parents, allege that Portland Public Schools went to great lengths to produce the 2018 demonstrations which saw thousands of students leave classrooms and take pictures of themselves with anti Second Amendment, anti NRA and anti-gun signs.

View this post on Instagram

The picture is blurry but the message is clear. #walkout2018

A post shared by Megan Haenni (@your.argument.is.invalid) on

Oregon Firearms Federation
Screenshot/Willamette Week

The parents’ attorney, James Buchal, a civil rights attorney and head of the Multnomah County Republican Party, said the lawsuit “demonstrates the extraordinary degree to which PPS officials have misused scarce educational resources for narrowly partisan and political objectives.”

The 31-page complaint included emails and photos demonstrating what Buchal said was collusion between administrators and school officials to work with anti-gun groups to “groom” students into ‘leading’ the walk outs.

The complaint reads in part:

“A continuous disinformation effort was made by defendants to portray demonstration efforts as student-led. For example, an Assistant Principal at Laurelhurst School reported on February 27th: “We just got off the phone with our Sr. Director and his guidance was to keep this as student centered as possible.” He suggested that teachers identify useful studentproxies so that he and another school official could have lunch with them for event planning, though phrasing his request as “see[ing] what they want to do” (See Exhibit 26). Offering young students who took one side of a controversial political issue private lunches with senior school officials is and was intended to be seductive, to groom, recruit and motivate students to the political cause favored by defendants, in order to reinforce and achieve the political goals of the defendants. Upon information and belief, no PPS administrator or teacher invited pro-Second- Amendment students to have lunch with them to see what they wanted to do, and PPS offered no school resources to pro-gun students similar to those PPS provided to anti-gun students.”

Such efforts at the very least defied the District’s own policies.

In fact, the lawsuit shows memos, flyers, emails (using official PPS email system and contacts) and other examples of teachers and administrators plotting to, not only organize the advertised “student led” walk outs, but providing helpful maps on walk out map routes around schools, lesson plans, and the official color students should wear:

A teacher provided students with how to write and lobby elected officials for gun control:

The lawsuit also alleges that developmentally disabled students were used by organizers to hold signs even though they couldn’t understand them:

“Even younger, or developmentally disabled students, incapable of reasoned choice as to participation, were pressed into service as pawns and props by defendants. Oneparent complained: “Our special needs 5th grader doesn’t understand why he had to wear a sign around his neck and march around the school….” (Exhibit 29) (Nextdoor posting)).”

It was so obviously a school-led event that parents had to opt out their children or they’d be required to participate in the walk out.



Schools changed their bell schedules to add an extra period so students breaking the district’s own policies wouldn’t be marked absent.

The walk outs were an orchestrated commemoration of the 17 students murdered at the Majory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida in 2017 by a mentally deranged gunman and former student.

The shooting was horrible enough of course, but Buchal provided proof that students were “emotionally manipulat[ed]” by “misleading propaganda” to “create political theater designed to manipulate public opinion and pressure elected officials to ban guns.”

Buchal says there was never mention of the Parkland school’s own complicity in the violence, beginning with the PROMISE program that refused to arrest and treat the mentally ill student, to the armed school resource officer who cowered outside while students were being shot inside the school.

Buchal, a Harvard educated and Yale trained lawyer, argues that by forcing parents to subsidize the political activities of teachers and administrators, it “… violates their First Amendment rights, and that the pervasive climate of indoctrination and intimidation within the Portland schools also unconstitutionally interferes with the free speech rights of students.  The suit also seeks to compel PPS to complete its long-overdue response to the Public Records Act request, pointing out that the Multnomah County District Attorney previously ordered PPS to complete the production by December 6th

I would have posted this last Thursday when I heard about it, but family commitments prevented it. However, the later timing allowed me to see the ‘coverage’ this important story got.

Willamette Week headlined its story “Multnomah County GOP Chairman Sues Portland Public Schools Over Gun Control Protests,” intentionally leaving the impression that it was the GOP bringing the lawsuit. Nothing wrong with that if it were the truth, but it’s not.

It was also amusing to see the AP story about it, which included a quote from the District spokesman calling the lawsuit “baseless.”

Former Oregonian political-writer-turned “director of strategic communications and outreach” for PPS, Harry Esteve, sees it as “baseless” I suppose because to see it otherwise might encourage citizens to look at Buchal’s legal exhibits revealing Esteve’s latent and overt fingerprints all over this manufactured event.

Once-Banned Strickland Back on PSU Campus to Address College Republicans About ‘Liberty’

Mike Strickland, the citizen journalist attacked by Antifa at a Black Lives Matter/Don’t Shoot Portland rally in 2016, is finally coming back to PSU. He’ll be a featured speaker at the College Republicans group on March 5th at 7pm.

Strickland was banned by the University after Antifa protesters attacked the journalist twice for filming the rally, provoking him to draw his legally concealed handgun to back them off. No shots were ever fired. In fact, the trained concealed handgun carrier kept his finger well away from the trigger.

The University, as well as Portland Community College, banned Strickland within mere days of his arrest for a period of two years even though the incident didn’t occur on any campus.

Strickland and fellow Citizen Journalist Dan Sandini Outside Multnomah County Courthouse after Strickland’s arraignment July 8, 2016

Though the incident didn’t occur near any of the campuses, Strickland was well known by campus administrators for reporting on the speeches, marches and antics of the University professors and protesters. Protesters included the Occupy, Antifa, IWW (Wobblies) and ISO, as well as the usual Portland Professional Protesters, Incorporated™ social justice, environmentalist, anti-Israel groups. Strickland’s reports on those campuses made national news. University and College administrators saw an opportunity to keep their well known antagonist off campus and took it.

Strickland could be known as Victim Zero. Before Ann Coulter, Milo Yianoppolous, Ben Shapiro and others were bullied off campuses due to the violent fiery temper tantrums by what has come to be known as Antifa protesters, Strickland was banned from campus on the say-so of Antifa radicals and due to the overzealous prosecution of Leftist prosecutor Kate Molina of the Multnomah County DA’s office.

UC Berkeley Antifa protesters throw fiery tantrum because they don’t want to hear conservative gay Jewish speaker Milo Yiannopoulos/ YouTube

The above-mentioned protesters will likely attempt to interrupt Strickland’s compelling talk.

On Tuesday evening Strickland plans to talk about liberty and how the First Amendment was “invalidated” by judges, college administrators and Antifa during and after the July 2016 incident.

They shouldn’t interrupt it. They should sit down, shut up, listen and learn because they may be next.

The Oregon Firearms Federation has set up a defense fund for Strickland. Give generously here.

Portland’s Protester Culture Just Got More Surreal After Strickland Attacker Ben Kerensa’s Latest (Hypocritical) Move

The story of Ben Kerensa, the loutish and violent Antifa activist who conspired with others to attack citizen journalist Mike Strickland to violently prevent him from filming a Don’t Shoot Portland/Black Lives Matter protest in 2016, has taken yet another – ironic – turn.

You’ll recall that Strickland was attacked by ‘protesters’ who, according to court testimony, conspired to confront and attack the successful YouTuber who kept a close and skeptical eye on Portland’s protest culture.

Strickland covered Portland’s Professional Protesters, Inc.™* for years without incident. On July 7, 2016, however, activists decided Strickland needed to go. They surrounded Strickland and hit him with, among other things, Antifa flag sticks to harm and intimidate him and push him away from the protest. Kerensa led this effort.

Strickland filmed throughout the attack and afterwards. When multiple activists came back to attack him again, Strickland, a licensed conceal/carry permit holder, drew his pistol. No shots were fired and no one else, except Strickland, was hurt. Strickland, a well-trained gun owner, showed a poised discipline and never let his finger get close to the trigger. For defending himself against a band of thugs bent on stopping him from performing a First-Amendment-protected activity, Strickland was arrested, jailed and convicted for drawing his weapon. His case is on appeal.

Four months later – four months! –  and mere days after the days’ long violent anti-Trump protests seen on national news,  yet another nation-wide, orchestrated ‘protest’ was planned in Portland concerning the Dakota Pipeline.

Kerensa was filming the protest that day and was told by a Portland Police sergeant that it was illegal to film a cop. That’s patently untrue and Kerensa knew it. He filed a complaint against the sergeant.  Though cops are allowed to lie to the public – what, you didn’t know that? – the officer, who claimed he lied to de-escalate the protest, an understandable move after an avalanche of violent protests, was found to have to have violated the spirit of truthiness (or something) required by the Citizens Oversight Board. In January of 2018, the ironically-named Police Chief, Danielle Outlaw, ratified the findings of the Board.

Now comes December 2018 and the Portland Police Citizens Review Committee, having taken none of the violent protest history into consideration, voted to sustain Kerensa’s complaint against the sergeant. The Oregonian reported:

Committee members said they were perplexed by the captain’s reasoning for her finding, even though Sgt. Erin Smith acknowledged he misrepresented the law to get protester Benjamin Kerensa to stop videotaping him during a Nov. 30, 2016 demonstration in front of fuel storage facilities in Northwest Portland over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Kerensa, who is thought by activists to be a police ‘snitch,’  said he had every right to film the protest:

“I had the constitutional right to film the police. There’s no circumstances [sic] where an officer should be allowed to infringe on First Amendment rights.’’

It is a First Amendment protected activity to film protests, something Kerensa violently ignored only four months before.

But, just as Portland Judge Thomas Ryan did before in the Strickland case, the Review Committee ignored reality to take the word of an Antifa thug, bomb hoaxer, police impersonator and violent felon over the word of a cop, whose job we thought was to protect people from violent people like Benjamin Kerensa.

Let’s leave the Committee’s idiocy aside for a second and go to my main point of this post.  The ironic and retch-inducing cant of this thug cannot be overstated. Four months after he attacked Strickland for filming a protest and violently deprived him of his First Amendment rights, Kerensa himself was filming a protest and piously stood on the Constitution for his right to film a protest and a cop.

One got the support of Portland leadership. The other didn’t.

Strickland was jailed for defending himself against a Kerensa-led violent mob bent on beating him again.  Kerensa is viewed as some sort of freedom fighter and is embraced by the ACLU (which never lifted a finger to help Strickland).

Only in Portland.

 

Editor’s note:

As I’ve chronicled here and will continue to do, Kerensa’s bizarre attempts to reinvent himself into a public do-gooder reveal him as a fabulist and dangerous man. Now the convicted bomb threat hoaxer, hacker, thug and police and FBI impersonator has reinvented himself into a practicing Muslim.

*sarcasm

Strickland Sentenced Today; Appeals Attorney Named

Give Generously to the Michael Strickland Defense Fund Here


A sentencing report prepared for Judge Thomas Ryan recommends no prison time for Michael Strickland, though the judge could ignore the report.

Strickland never has posed a threat to anyone, even the day he was forced to draw his weapon to defend himself against an onslaught of Portland Black Bloc outfitted anarchists and the ironically self described “anti fascists” as they attempted to — for the second time that day — assault and throw him out of a protest July 7, 2016.

The move employed by the violent mob that day was the same threatened against the GOP at the 82nd Avenue of the Roses Parade, which was canceled due to the promised violence.

Multnomah County’s two track justice system — one for anarchists and one for law abiding citizens  such as Strickland — is being watched by national figures.

Strickland has secured the services of Robert Barnes,  an appeals attorney, to take over for his able trial attorneys Chris Trotter and Jason Short.

Times Free Press

Barnes specializes in tax law and constitutional law. He successfully argued and won the first amendment aspect of actor Wesley Snipe’s tax prosecution. He’s been involved in several high profile cases. Though he bases his practice in Los Angeles, Barnes practices all over the country and the world. He’s tried at least one case in Oregon before.

Though rife with many appealable angles, Barnes has told me that he initially sees the Strickland case as a first amendment case.

Strickland will be sentenced today at 9am in the Multnomah County Courthouse.

I won’t rest until Strickland gets his ability to do his job back, his freedom back and the agonies that he’s undergone absolved and restored. I hope there’s a civil lawsuit against these people and I hope he wins a huge judgement against them.

 

Precious progressives ponder possible Supreme Court review of religious objections to ObamaCare

[Since this was posted, SCOTUS has decided to take the Hobby Lobby case]

This brisk Portland morning I dragged myself into a local coffee shop to get three Americanos--stat!–and, coffeeas I was drizzling in the required milk product into the cups, overheard a gaggle of gals discussing ObamaCare. It seems the three 20-30 somethings were upset the US Supreme Court may decide today to take up cases that could exempt religious people from parts of the bill forcing them to cover abortifacent and birth control insurance coverage.  The convo went something like this,

Red head, ‘Well, I mean, they can have their religious beliefs…’

Short hair (finishing her sentence), ‘I suppose…’

Too much make up, ‘But should they be able to go line by line through it to pick what they want to follow? I mean…’

These women were in support of  forcing free people into a system which subordinates religious beliefs to obamacare priests arrested for protestthe collective ‘good.’ It made me sad they could speak so dismissively of religious beliefs while supporting a program, ObamaCare, which drops a cluster bomb into America’s health insurance and delivery system and thus far has been a spectacular failure. Had they been paying attention, these women would have known this aspect of ObamaCare has been fought hammer and tong since somebody actually read the bill.

SCOTUS could take up one of three cases challenging ObamaCare’s birth control insurance criteria, 

The three cases on which the court could act on Tuesday concern claims made by Mennonite, evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic families that run businesses.

“What’s really a focus of the case is protecting these people’s religious convictions,” said Kyle Duncan, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents evangelical Christians David and Barbara Green and their children in one of the cases. They own arts and crafts retailer Hobby obamacare hobby lobbyLobby Stores Inc and Mardel, a chain of Christian bookstores.

A key question will be whether individual religious liberty applies to a person’s company. If stare decisis means anything, the legal theory guiding Citizen’s United campaign contribution case should prevail in this one. If it does, get ready for the howls of protest from the left. 

Back at the coffee shop, it never occurred to these women they could pay for their own birth control pills for less than $10 a month instead of forcing people of faith to forsake their beliefs to accommodate others’ sex lives. I guess the old saw about about cows and milk has been changed to, ‘why should I pay for my birth control when I can force it from everyone else for free?