President Trump and Attorney General Sessions Want to Enshrine a Business Right to Discriminate Into the Constitution

Can businesses put up a sign that says, “We Don’t Sell To Gays?” President Trump says yes.

Today Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Supreme Court in an amicus brief that businesses have a constitutional right to discriminate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That means that business owners could put a sign in the window saying, “We Don’t Serve Gays,” even if a state or Congress says anti-gay discrimination is unlawful.

While the Justice Department says this wouldn't necessarily allow businesses to turn people away because of their race, if the Constitution protects such a right to discriminate against gay people, it would also authorize businesses to discriminate based on national origin, sex, religion, disability, gender identity, or any other basis. That means businesses could put up other signs as well: “We Don’t Sell to Women.” “No Muslims.” “No Transgender People.” All in open defiance of the nation’s civil rights laws.

How did we get here?

The case before the Supreme Court has deceptively simple facts. Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig were planning their wedding reception in Colorado. Along with Charlie’s mom, Dave and Charlie went to the Masterpiece Cakeshop bakery near Denver to order a cake in July 2012. The bakery turned them away, saying it doesn’t make wedding cakes for gay couples because that would violate its religious beliefs and artistic freedom.

Everyone in this country should be opposed to such a radical ruling that would undermine America’s core commitment to equality.

Under long-standing Colorado law, businesses that are open to the public can’t turn customers away because they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. That’s just what happened here, so Charlie and Dave sued. The Colorado courts agreed that it was discrimination and ruled that free speech and religious protections don’t give anyone a right to discriminate.

It’s easy to dismiss the case as trivial. Dave and Charlie could — and did — get a cake from another bakery. And few people would really want a cake from a bakery that doesn’t actually want to bake it.

But consider what a ruling for the bakery could mean here — constitutional protection for discrimination based on freedom of religion or expression. That’s breathtaking in its scope and consequences. It would mean that a florist could refuse to sell flowers for the funeral of an interfaith couple, a dance studio could turn away the children of an interracial couple, an architect could put up a sign saying, “No Jews,” a doctor could turn away transgender people altogether. And each and every law that makes discrimination illegal would be overridden by the constitutional right to discriminate.

In fact, the consequences go far beyond nondiscrimination laws.

If any business has a constitutional right to express its views or its religion by refusing to comply with a nondiscrimination law, it could defy other government rules as well. Businesses could refuse to follow food safety rules because they want to express themselves through their refusal. Or a company could flout consumer protection regulations because they are inconsistent with its religious beliefs.

This case has never been about the cake. It’s about whether anyone in America can be turned away from a business because of who they are. It’s about whether the Constitution gives businesses the right to discriminate whenever they want to.

Everyone in this country should be opposed to such a radical ruling that would undermine America’s core commitment to equality. That President Trump has endorsed a right to discriminate against LGBT people may not be surprising, given his earlier actions to strip transgender youth of protections in schools and to deprive lesbian, gay, and bisexual people of federal civil rights protections altogether. But it couldn’t be more un-American or shameful.

Add a comment (102)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

A business isn't a home even if it is privately owned. When a business advertises itself and opens its doors, they are inviting the public to come in and purchase goods and services. Unless you want to give the business the power to decide who is a member of the public and who isn't then no; they don't get to decide who can come shop there. That's why there are no velvet ropes and bouncers at Macy's. Either grant them the power to decide whether you are a member of the public or not or prohibit advertising and require businesses to send out individual invitations to only those people they decide can shop at their stores. THEN the business can decide whobis allowed on the property and who isn't. Otherwise, the business and its doors are open to the public.

Anonymous

Once sessions and trump get business immunity put into the constitution I can finally put up a sign say that says "NO HANDICAPS OR RETARDS, THAT INCLUDES YOU GREGG ABBOTT AND DONALD TRUMP!

Hell yeah! Obviously Trumps the retard. And yeah that's right I said it RETARD. It applies to trump only.

Biker Fag

I get it. Like FAG describes loud, inconsiderate, ignorant people. Like motorcycle bikers! Fag doesn't mean gay.
Yeah that's it! Also, those people who drive diesel pickups that spew black smoke, they are FAGS.

Now, if the motorcyclist is gay, he would be a GAY FAG. Get it.

So, next time a group of you loud ass motorcycle gangs ride by and I yell "FAGS", you'll know why!

Don't turn around because I got my own gat too, fag.

Anonymous

One time when trump came to our golf course I pee'd in the ice tea he was drinking. Hahahahaha! I worked for the concessions contractor at the course. As soon as we heard we were brewing lemon aid for trump 3 of us swiftly added some flavor!

Hahahaha! Fuk off!

Anonymous

Who you apply the label too isn't the issue. That you use the label as an insult is the issue. The group of individuals who used to have that label keeps having to switch the name of their condition because it keeps getting made into an insult. Can you imagine if what you are is considered a joke and an insult?

Anonymous

As much as Conservatives complain about frivolous lawsuits and it's "legalese" - these so-called Conservatives were really liberal constitutionally when they invented "corporate persons" and "natural persons" (or humans).

These so-called Conservatives claim the Founding Fathers wanted "corporate persons" to not only have the same rights as human persons but these artificial "persons" could commit crimes with no fear of criminal prosecution - unlike human persons.

For example: Trump or any business owner, by becoming a corporation, is actually two separate "persons" legally. If his company harms someone, plaintiffs can penalize the "corporate person" but the personal assets of the "human person" or owner is protected. The owner intentionally created two persons to protect their personal assets.

Business owners that set their business up as two separate persons are now trying to say that if the "human person" has a religious interpretation against gays, that it means the "corporate person" has religious rights also.

Business owners can't have it both ways - if there is only one "person" with religious rights then they no longer are protected from bankruptcy or lawsuits. This liberal legal scheme is very complicated.

Anonymous

A little mom and pop cake maker isn't a corporation. It would be hard to justify even making it an LLC

Anonymous

Most mom & pop cake makers are corporations and their personal assets are protected from bankruptcy and lawsuits. Only a "sole proprietorship" tax classification is not a corporation. Most established businesses in the United States, including mom & pop businesses, are corporations.

Anonymous

To one of the other commenters, any business owner who has done any research on running their own business (even if they're the only employee) would create an LLC. As a self employed hairdresser, I'm an LLC; it protects my personal finances and assets from any business liabilities, and it ultimately is no more difficult (maybe even easier) when it comes to taxes.

Anonymous

If any business puts a sign in their window that refuses service to anyone based on sexual orientation, race, religion etc. then they do NOT know how to run a business and will soon close their doors. It's common sense. You don't turn away potential profits.

Therefore I say let them do this so they lose their business.

Pages

Stay Informed