Justice Kennedy Slams California's "Forward Thinking" Claim In SCOTUS Decision
While most of the nation's attention centered on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the President Trump's Executive Order pausing travel from certain countries at risk for harboring possible terrorists, another decision made waves.
The high court struck down California's law requiring all pregnancy crisis centers post information on abortion in their facilities, which was challenged on behalf of centers owned and operated by those who oppose abortion.
The decision became a lightning rod over abortion rights, but it was also about freedom of speech. Liberals claimed that the court had given one group's right to free speech more weight than their own rights.
While Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the decision which was handed down, Justice Anthony Kennedy (often considered a "swing vote" on the 9 person court which holds 4 reliable liberal votes and 4 mostly reliable conservative votes) wrote in his concurring decision a scathing rebuttal to the State of California offering its own "congratulatory statement" of a "legacy of 'forward thinking'" as part of the state's official history.
Kennedy wrote in his concurring decision, "it is not forward thinking to force individuals to 'be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] find unacceptable." Kennedy then added," It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment...understand the history of authoritarian governments as the Founders then knew it...how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech."
Justice Kennedy then ends the thought by writing, "governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions," and that, "Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties."
Essentially, Justice Kennedy is saying that the state imposed its own beliefs onto individuals, even though it violated their own deeply-held belief, and that in doing so, violated their personal liberties and right to freedom of speech and religion.