Can the State Compel Speech?


As usual, I had at least two different topics I was trying to choose between to write about today, but sometimes something else pops up on my radar and I am compelled to comment on it or else lose the momentum of the story entirely.

When I wrote recently that we all needed to fight for religious freedom, I think that some thought that I, an atheist, must be joking.  I wasn’t and a case currently before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals becomes exactly what I was referring to in that post.

A couple, Christian, that produces videos for weddings, the State of Minnesota has declared, must also produce the same for same sex couples. Of course, they’re fighting this as a violation of their religious freedom, which is actually correct, but it goes far beyond that in my opinion.

No one should be compelled to appear to advocate for anything that goes against their basic beliefs, no matter what those beliefs are. Read the entire story linked above and then think about the ramifications of the court upholding the idea that the state may actually compel speech from those where that speech may not only violate their freedom to exercise their religion as guaranteed in the Constitution, but to violate their conscience as well.

No matter what each of us may think about these plaintiffs in this case, the bottom line question is, can the state compel speech from people whose religious beliefs or conscience would otherwise forbid them? If anyone out there is saying yes to this, then consider all the consequences.

Currently, polling suggests that as many as 40% of millennials disagree with our right to free speech. That has to be a concern for everyone. If it’s not, it should be. This is the next generation of legislators, judges, and justices that would forever change what we view today as a basic freedom.

If this case makes it all the way to the Supreme Court, that that court affirms that indeed the state may compel speech, the 1st Amendment is gone. I’m not saying this is a slippery slope – what I’m saying is that we would be in free fall – without a parachute.

This really is a case about speech. If I can’t criticize religious views here, or others cannot promote theirs, we’ve collectively lost the right to free speech, guaranteed, or at least we have always thought so, in our Constitution.

And it wont stop there. When I say that the 1st Amendment could become null and void, it’s all speech. Yes, even the press. Do we really want the government, at any level, telling us what we may or may not discuss? If I took a poll right now (non-scientific), I think the majority would say no.

If the government may tell believers of any faith what they may or may not say or do, then they can also tell everyone else the same.

I don;t want that in my future. We need to fight for religious freedom because there’s a possible outcome that would not only affect believers, but all of us.

3 thoughts on “Can the State Compel Speech?

  1. Unfortunately, the progressive tide is coming. The next generation is being carefully programmed right now by a progressive educational establishment to hold the 1st amendment and all it represents, in morally superior contempt. Especially in universities where tomorrows leaders will come from. In these traditionally liberal institutions there is no 1st amendment anymore. As it violates the safe space of students who are about as liberal as Stalin when it comes to hearing unwelcomed opinions. Because they have been purposely miss-educated to think that they know best for everyone. And to be intolerant, oppressive, and bigoted for all the correct and progressive reasons in order to help steer society where it doesn’t want to go for its own good. To this mentality, the 1st amendment isn’t simply an inconvenience or an obstacle to overcome, to the progressives it’s a crime against humanity. And these are the people who will be running America a few decades from now. The judges, politicians, and the clever lawyers of tomorrow so the days of the “pesky 1st amendment” are clearly numbered.


  2. This is not a “freedom of speech” issue.
    It’s a “discriminatory practices” issue.

    It is identical to the lunch counter discrimination cases of the 1950s.

    Certainly the state cannot compel people to perform personal services against their will for any reason, religious or otherwise.

    So the state cannot compel me to have sex against my will, donate my blood to someone I have injured, give a person a massage or a pedicure, etc.

    On the other hand, the state forbids discrimination in the performance of services that are not “personal” but generic and available to the general public. That includes renting an apartment, eating at a lunch counter, getting a form (such as a marriage license) from City Hall, attending a school, and so on.

    The difficulty arises in the middle ground of deciding what is or is not a “personal service” and what is or is not a generic service available to the general public.

    In what category does baking an artesanal cake fall (as opposed to pointing to a cake at the supermarket bakery counter)? What about cutting hair?

    In this case, a judge must decide if producing the video is a “personal service” or a generic service available to the general public.

    One suggestion I read was for the business to loudly-proudly announce that 50% of their profits go to support “anti-same-sex marriage” advocacy groups.


  3. Freedom of speech, religion, petition, assembly. This must be preserved for a society to remain free. All speech, religion, petition and assembly…not just the ones we approve of, but the ones we abhor. There was a good reason it was first..and a good reason for the Second Amendment. Lose either, or gawd forbid both, and our Constitutional Republic is toast. Liberty is gone. America is over.

    Our Constitution works for everyone, if it is allowed to.

    Special interest law firms work for those who identify as victims of a country that offers liberty to its citizens, such that they could not get anywhere else. Shut up and buy your damned wedding cake down the street or buy a plain cake from this baker and decorate it yourself. But…don’t ask the Islamist baker the next city over to make it or you may end up tossed off a building through some unfortunate accident, of course.


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