Supreme Court sides with Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Jack Phillips speaks out on 'Fox & Friends.'
It’s decision time for the U.S. Supreme Court, which had a full plate of issues before it: immigration, religious freedom and voter rights.
This term, the justices issued a ruling striking down a law that barred sports gambling in most states, handed down a narrow ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to provide a wedding cake to a same-sex couple and upheld a state's law that purged voters who didn't cast a ballot or respond to warnings in several years, among others.
Read on for a look at some of the bigger cases justices have ruled on.
Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, was sued after he declined to create a cake for a same-sex wedding. (Reuters/Rick Wilking)
In a test of free speech and religious freedom, the Supreme Court took up a case focused on whether a business owner has to create a product that is against his or her deeply-held religious beliefs regarding marriage.
The case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission centered around Jack Phillips, who declined to create a cake for the wedding celebration of two gay men in 2012. Phillips maintained that he would sell anything in his store to the couple, but could not create a new cake to celebrate same-sex marriage due to his religious beliefs and convictions about male-female matrimony.
In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillips' rights under the First Amendment. However, in its limited ruling, the Supreme Court did not decide on the big issue: whether a business can refuse to serve gay and lesbian people.
"The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression," the order read. "While it is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion."
Another test of religious freedom before the Supreme Court came with i">>National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. In that case, NIFLA, a nonprofit representing pro-life and religious pregnancy centers, sued California over a law that requires pregnancy centers to inform patients about family planning options available in the state, including abortion.
On June 26, the Supreme Court overturned California's regulations in a 5-4 ruling. The ruling also casts doubts on similar laws in Hawaii and Illinois.
NIFLA President Thomas Glessner argued that the law requires anti-abortion centers to be “advertising for abortion.”
"Can the government impose and compel a faith-based ministry to proclaim a message that they are fundamentally opposed to with the risk of being fined or shut down?"- NIFLA President Thomas Glessner
“Can the government impose and compel a faith-based ministry to proclaim a message that they are fundamentally opposed to with the risk of being fined or shut down? That’s the issue here,” Glessner previously told Fox News.
SUPREME COURT TO HEAR ANTI-ABORTION AND FREE SPEECH CASE
However, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra defended the law as a way for patients to get “accurate information” about healthcare options.
“Information is power, and all women should have access to the information they need when making personal health care decisions,” he said.
Protesters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court, while the court justices consider case regarding presidential powers as it weighs the legality of President Trump's latest travel ban. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration's controversial ban on travel by residents of a handful of Muslim-majority countries on June 26.
“The Proclamation is squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under” federal law, the Trump v. Hawaii ruling said.
The decision is the first substantive ruling on a Trump administration policy.
Mark Janus sued because he didn’t want a certain fee deducted from his paycheck to go toward a union just because he worked for the state. (Reuters/Leah Millis)
The Supreme Court upended a decades-old precedent that allowed unions to collect fees from public employees, including ones who were not part of the union. The case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31 forced the justices to decide if so-called “agency-shop” arrangements are allowed.
In a 5-4 decision on June 27, the Supreme Court ruled that state government workers cannot be forced to pay so-called "fair share" fees to support collective bargaining and other union activities -- whether they join the union or not.
The Court said "this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern."
While the current case applies only to public sector employees, the political and financial stakes are potentially huge for the broader American labor union movement, which had been sounding the alarm about the legal fight.
The unions say 5 million government employees in 24 states and the District of Columbia would be affected by this ruling.
Mark Janus, employed at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, set the ball in motion when he sued because he didn’t want a certain fee deducted from his paycheck to go toward a union just because he worked for the state. His lawyers argued that the payment could violate First Amendment rights if someone is forced to pay a fee to an organization with different views than he or she holds.
SUPREME COURT RULING ON COLORADO GAY WEDDING CAKE CASE MAY BE INFLUENCED BY PAST LITIGATION
Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, has argued that strong labor unions are needed because they give “the strength in numbers [workers] need to fight for the freedoms they deserve,” including retirement plans and health care.
The high court heard a similar case in 2016, but the death of Justice Antonin Scalia meant the case ended in a 4-4 decision, Reuters reported.
Activists rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of arguments in a key voting rights case involving a challenge to the Ohio's policy of purging infrequent voters from voter registration rolls. (Reuters/Lawrence Hurley)
In what's considered a pivotal case regarding voting rights, the Supreme Court decided to allow Ohio to clean up its voting rolls by targeting people who have not cast ballots in a certain amount of time.
In a 5-4 decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court rejected arguments that the practice violates a federal law intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. A handful of other states also use voters' inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls.
Under Ohio rules, registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period are targeted for eventual removal from registration rolls, even if they haven't moved and otherwise remain eligible. The state said it only uses the disputed process after first comparing its voter lists with a U.S. postal service list of people who have reported a change of address. But not everyone who moves notifies the post office, the state said.
So the state asks people who haven't voted in two years to confirm their eligibility. If they do, or if they show up to vote over the next four years, voters remain registered. If they do nothing, their names eventually fall off the list of registered voters.
The case is titled i">>Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute.
The Supreme Court decided what voters could wear when they head to the polls, ruling on June 14 that a broad state ban on wearing “political apparel” such as a Tea Party-linked shirt or a “Please I.D. Me” button at the polls violated the free speech rights of voters.
The case of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky began in 2010, when Minnesotan Andrew Cilek wore such apparel when he went to vote. One of the items voters were to decide on then, the Star Tribune reported, was whether Minnesota voters should have to show photo identification when voting. At first, Cilek was prevented from voting after he refused to cover up his shirt. He was later able to vote, but had to leave his information with poll workers.
The ruling said despite any “good intentions” by the state, regulation of such individual expression cannot be reasonably applied because of overly sweeping prohibitions.
Should courts step in when lawmakers draw up new district maps that favor their party? With i">>Gill v. Whitford, the Supreme Court faced such a pivotal question -- but the nation's highest court declined to issue a definitive ruling.
On June 18, the nation's highest court said the plaintiffs, Wisconsin Democrats, did not have standing and dismissed the case back to lower courts.
The court was asked to determine whether Republican legislators in Wisconsin, who drew a new election map that skewed in favor of their party after they took control in 2010, went too far with gerrymandering. The court was also being asked to endorse a standard for redistricting that would then apply nationwide.
Redistricting is a major issue in many states, and this case isn’t the only one the nation’s highest court has heard. The Supreme Court could decide soon to take up a new gerrymandering case from North Carolina.
In South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., the Supreme Court is tasked with deciding whether online shoppers should be charged a sales tax. (Reuters/Carlos Jasso)
Attention, online shoppers: Costs may rise after the Supreme Court overturned decades-old rule limiting the ability of states to collect sales tax on certain out-of-state internet purchases.
The 5-4 ruling in i">>South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. is a victory for states that argued they were losing out on billions of dollars each year.
Under the previous rule, if a business shipped a product to a state where it doesn’t have an office, warehouse or other physical presence, it didn't have to collect the state’s sales tax.
WHO ARE THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES?
Customers are generally required to pay the tax to the state themselves if they don’t get charged, but the vast majority do not do so.
The current regulation “allows remote sellers to escape an obligation to remit a lawful state tax is unfair and unjust,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said. “It is unfair and unjust to those competitors, both local and out of state, who must remit the tax; to the consumers who pay the tax; and to the states that seek fair enforcement of the sales tax.”
All bets are off after the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that barred sports gambling in most states. The decision was a clear defeat for the federal government and major professional and college sports leagues that fought to uphold the ban.
Such betting is already legal in Nevada, and New Jersey voters and lawmakers passed a law to legalize sports wagering several years ago. But that state law was opposed by the NCAA, the NFL, MLB, the NBA and the NHL.
Those on the leagues’ side pointed to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, a federal law that prohibited sports betting in all states except the four grandfathered in: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. Nevada is the only state out of the four that has full-scale sports wagering, according to The Associated Press.
"Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not,” the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling said.
"Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own."- Supreme Court ruling
More than a dozen states supported New Jersey in the case.
New Jersey could see an uptick in annual revenue to the tune of about $9 billion with sports gambling legalized, the New York Post reported.
In i">>Carpenter v. United States, the Supreme Court had to decide whether the Fourth Amendment allows police to be able to use cell phone records that show the location and movements of the user without a search warrant.
In a 5-4 narrow ruling, the Supreme Court said on June 22 that a warrant is generally needed to track a suspect's movements by collecting information about where they've used their cell phones -- seen as a victory for privacy in the digital age.
"Given the unique nature of cell phone location records, the fact that the information is held by a third party does not by itself overcome the user's claim to Fourth Amendment protection," the opinion read.
The case involves Timothy Carpenter, who was arrested for being part of a sting of Radio Shack robberies in Michigan and Ohio. He was convicted, in part, after police obtained archived cellphone records showing him near the scene of the crimes.
“Because cellphone location records can reveal countless private details of our lives, police should only be able to access them by getting a warrant based on probable cause,” Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Carpenter, said in a statement last year. “The time has come for the Supreme Court to make clear that the longstanding protections of the Fourth Amendment apply with undiminished force to these kinds of sensitive digital records.”
The government argued it did not need “probable cause” to obtain these records, kept by phone companies, because of a 1986 congressional law known as the Stored Communications Act.
Fox News’ Madeline Farber, Steve Kurtz, Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn.
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