Search Results for ‘oregon cake’

Oregon appeals court upholds $135,000 cake fine

An Oregon appeals court has upheld the oppressive $135,000 fine levied on bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, who turned away a gay couple’s wedding cake order [Whitney Woodworth, Salem Statesman-Journal] As I observed two years back, the use of ruinous fines to punish non-ruinous conduct is a wider problem in our law, not just here. The Oregon court did reverse one state finding related to the Kleins’ supposed announcement of a future intent to discriminate, to which I and others had taken particular exception.

As my colleague Roger Pilon put it about the Colorado case, “If there is intolerance here, it is from those who would force a man to choose between his religious beliefs and his livelihood.”

P.S. Eugene Volokh on the court’s main ruling and on the “threat to discriminate” sub-issue.

More adventures of Oregon BOLI commissioner Avakian

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, recently in the news for ordering Melissa and Aaron Klein to pay $135,000 for not wanting to make cake for a commitment ceremony, in 2013 ordered the owner of the Twilight Room Annex, a gay-friendly bar in North Portland, to pay $400,000 for disinviting a trans club from meeting at the nightclub on Friday nights after business from other customers dropped off [Oregonian]

Oregon: bakers’ statements to national media were “unlawful”

Readers who follow the battles over forfeiture law may recall the recent case in which a North Carolina convenience store owner from whom the government had seized $107,000 without any showing of wrongdoing decided to fight the case in the press as well as in court, backed by the Institute for Justice. Lyndon McLellan’s decision to go public with the dispute drew a menacing letter from a federal prosecutor about the publicity the case had been getting:

“Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it,” Mr. West wrote. “But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency.” He concluded with a settlement offer in which the government would keep half the money.

That case ended happily, but the problem is much broader: many individuals and businesses fear that if they seek out favorable media coverage about their battle with the government, the government will find a way to retaliate, either informally in settlement negotiations or by finding new charges to throw against them.

That such fears might not be without foundation is illustrated by last week’s widely publicized Oregon cake ruling, in which a Gresham, Oregon couple was ordered to pay $135,000 in emotional-distress damages for having refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. Aside from the ruling’s other objectionable elements, the state labor commissioner ruled it “unlawful” for the couple to have given national media interviews in which they expressed sentiments like “we can see this becoming an issue and we have to stand firm.” Taking advantage of an exception in free speech law in which courts have found that the First Amendment does not protect declarations of future intent to engage in unlawful discrimination, the state argued – and its commissioner agreed – that the “stand firm” remark along with several similarly general comments rallying supporters were together “unlawful.”

That ought to bother anyone who cares about free speech. I’ve got a piece up at Ricochet.com, my first there, exploring the question in more detail. Check it out [cross-posted from Cato at Liberty].

Similarly today: Ken at Popehat.

An observation on the $135,000 cake refusal

Has anyone noted that the “Ferguson syndrome” of ruinously escalating fines for petty violations [covered widely in the liberal press, and here previously], and Oregon’s ordering of a couple to pay $135,000 for not complying with a request to bake a cake (being covered at AP, widely in the conservative press, and here previously, with related], might actually amount in part to the same issue?

P.S. On Twitter, colleague Jason Kuznicki and I discuss the issue a little further. He writes: “Can’t say I agree. Punitive fines are really hidden taxes. The bakery issue is about punishing crimethink.” I respond: “But with sensible damages calculation (i.e. circa zero) the bakery action would lose much of its power to intimidate. Also, there’s debate: are oppressive local fines ‘just’ a revenue abuse (typically our side’s view) or a wider #NewJimCrow? Or to put it yet another way: once you allow oppressive fines, don’t be surprised if they are used to oppress.”

Latest liberty cake wreck

In Gresham, Oregon, it’s anti-discrimination law 1, free association 0 as a family business that cited religious beliefs in declining to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, and was hit by an enforcement action as a result, shutters its retail shop in favor of baking from home. Oregon does not recognize same-sex marriage, which (as in the parallel New Mexico wedding photographer case) makes clear that the intrusion on individual liberty here arises from anti-discrimination law as applied to so-called public accommodations, not from marriage law. [Shackford, Reason] Related: “Religious liberty depends on right-of-center gay marriage advocates” [Stephen Richer, Daily Caller]

Free speech roundup

  • “Charlie Hebdo editor: Censorship must not win” [Charb/New York Post] Today, on anniversary of that attack, Cato hosts free speech attorney Robert Corn-Revere on “The Assassin’s Veto,” with comments from GWU lawprof Catherine Ross, moderated by John Samples [details, and watch live]
  • Florida lawmakers muzzle doctors’ comments to patients regarding guns. 11th Circuit says okay. No, not okay [Ken White, Eugene Volokh]
  • The ‘speech integral to criminal conduct’ exception, important in early free speech law, has come roaring back [Eugene Volokh; for the role of this doctrine in the Oregon cake case, see my post then and his]
  • Good news if you’re a Wisconsin conservative who forgot to archive your emails: that nice John Doe prosecutor secretly did it for you [Watchdog]
  • From Federalist Society national lawyers’ convention, Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz interviews Kirsten Powers on her new book The Silencing (wobbly audio in early minutes, which eventually clears);
  • “Ex-tenant barred from saying that ex-landlord had been in the Witness Protection Program, ‘[r]egardless of the truth or falsity of this information'” [Volokh]
  • Lawprof Eric Posner wants to roll back First Amendment to curb ISIS recruitment. Hell, no [ABA Journal, Anthony Fisher/Reason, Ken White/Popehat]

Viral junk and the Culture War: think before you share

Can sober correction ever catch up with viral junk about legal cases on the internet? Two new instances, one from the right and one from the left, leave me wondering.

I’ve now updated this 2008 Overlawyered post on a convict’s hand-scrawled, soon-dismissed “ban the Bible” lawsuit to reflect the story’s re-emergence in recent days as a much-shared item at mostly conservative social media outlets, which have passed on the story as if it were a new and significant legal development, typically omitting its date, circumstances, and disposition.

Meanwhile, Raw Story has now corrected a post in which it claimed that Oregon cake bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein were fined for supposedly “doxxing” (maliciously revealing personally identifying information about) their adversaries. (It credits a Eugene Volokh post for flagging the error.) But the source on which Raw Story based its report, blogger “Libby Anne” at Patheos Atheist, still hasn’t corrected her deeply flawed account, which has now had more than 252,000 Facebook shares.

Please think before you share.

My letter in the WSJ: antidiscrimination law and religious liberty

I’ve got a letter in the WSJ:

In claiming that “Gay Marriage Collides With Religious Liberty” (Houses of Worship, Sept. 20), Mollie Ziegler Hemingway conflates the effects of antidiscrimination law with the effects of recognizing same-sex marriage. Many of the conscience cases she cites involving private businesses arose in jurisdictions that don’t recognize gay marriage, and most would reach the same legal result so long as local antidiscrimination laws remain in place, whether or not the law on marriage has changed….

I go on to note that anti-discrimination law for years now has been obliging some small businesspeople to enter business dealings inconsistent with their private conscience, as when bed and breakfasts are obliged to accommodate unmarried cohabitants, or owners of print or video-duplication shops are obliged to duplicate literature promoting causes they abhor, whether religious or secular. So far as I can tell, we libertarians are the only group that has consistently raised alarms over the years about this coercive effect; most social conservatives have tended to ignore the area until quite recently, and of course the typical position of modern progressives is to see few if any real issues of concern here. Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, I should note, says I wrongly assumed that she writes from outside the libertarian tradition; Twitter exchange on that here.

Some recent links on these controversies: Elane Photography (New Mexico) and followup; Oregon cake bakers; Arlington, Va. video-duplication shop, first, second, and third posts. I wrote about the relations between religious liberty, libertarianism, and social conservatism here (more, and yet more on Twitter with columnist Tim Carney). More: Bainbridge, Stephen Miller/Independent Gay Forum.

Religion and the law roundup

December 12 roundup

  • “Scott Gottlieb’s FDA Is Moving Toward a Stealth Ban on Cigarettes and Cigars” [Jacob Grier, Reason]
  • Supreme Court should take Melissa and Aaron Klein cake-refusal case from Oregon and resolve the issues of free expression it dodged in Masterpiece [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran, ABA Journal, earlier on Melissa and Aaron Klein cake-refusal case including oppressive $135,000 fine levied by Oregon BOLI (Bureau of Labor and Industries)]
  • “Administrative Law Is Bunk. We Need a Bundesverwaltungsgericht” [Michael Greve, responses from Mike Rappaport, Philip Wallach, and Ilan Wurman, and rejoinder from Greve]
  • New York’s family court system is failing children and their families [Naomi Riley/City Journal, thanks for quote]
  • “The Emmys People Are Opposing A Pet Products Company Named After A Dog Named ‘Emmy'” [Tim Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Metaphor alert: “Lawmaker Injured by Flying Constitution” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar, and funny throughout]