Disclaimer: This is 90% just my opinion, since I have no intention of going in-depth on this topic since we don’t even know if this amendment will get passed yet.
There’s a bill going through the Arizona state Senate at the moment that would protect people from being sued if they refuse service to someone based on their religious beliefs.
The text of bill would essentially allow any workers sued in a civil case to claim they have a legal right to withhold service if doing so would “substantially burden” their religious freedom.
– The Blaze
As I am a huge supporter of freedom of association and being able to discriminate, I figured I should weigh in on this.
Like quite a few moves by my state’s legislature in the past few years, I give Arizona a 10 out of 10 for having their heart in the right place here and having good intentions. When I first read about a news article about this proposed bill I was pretty excited, except then I started to really think about the content of the law and how the inevitable Supreme Court case would go.
And now I’m less excited.
My issues with the bill are two fold.
The first is based on ideology.
I don’t believe that the only people who should be protected by this law should be the religious. The Supreme Court has long held that Freedom of Association is as much a part of the 1st Amendment as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, as well as being constitutionally part of the 14th amendment.
There isn’t anyone my religion tells me I should discriminate against (Deists don’t really go in for dogma or organized shows of devotion), but nevertheless maybe I want to discriminate against idiots, or neo-nazis, or people who voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012, or people who put COEXIST stickers on the back of their car.
Why should it matter if I have a religious reason to limit my association with people like that?
Easy answer, it shouldn’t matter.
So yeah, I kinda want this law to expand to cover ethical or moral issues with service that fall outside of the realm of religion.
Serving a neo-nazi may not actually be against my religion (I’m pretty sure it’s not explicitly backed up by Christianity or Judaism either) but that doesn’t mean I want to have to bake a cake for a neo-nazi party or take photos for their rallies just because they want to hire me to do it.
The second issue that of inevitable court case.
Please, if you think that this won’t get dragged to court then you must be huffing paint thinner.
Of course it will get taken to court and, almost certainly, will find it’s way to the Supreme Court who will have to decide on the constitutionality of this for the entire country!
Now we could be lucky and they could kick it back to a lower court (like they did with the California Prop 8 case) and keep from setting national judicial precedent, but more likely (with the current judges sitting on the SCotUS) they will find it unconstitutional and voila, we suddenly have a national precedent set that it’s open season to sue businesses.
Yeah, that’s going to go great.
So honestly this gets 0 out of 10 for implementation and clear thinking by the Arizona State Legislature. This can really only end in tears and, for the time being, we probably need to pull this back and think it over a little more before passing it.
Just a little friendly advice.