Apr 3, 2018
In his much discussed indictment of secularized liberal democracy, Polish philosopher and sometime government minister Ryszard Legutko writes bitingly of the powerful and coercive "demon" he so abhors. Toward the end of The Demon in Democracy (Encounter Books) he describes the problem like this: "The law has become a sword against the unresponsiveness and sometimes resistance of society to the policy of aggressive social restructuring that is euphemistically called modernization."
Legutko writes as a conservative intellectual who, having lived under communism, has had it up to here with social engineering as practiced by that super-nanny called the European Union. And in America? Two cases which the Supreme Court will decide sometime between now and the start of summer reflect the same dynamic at work here.
The cases come from two different states, California and Colorado, involve two different social issues – abortion and same-sex marriage – and have two very different sets of facts. But both raise the same free speech question: How far can the state legitimately go in forcing individuals and groups to communicate messages that support things they reject in conscience?
In the Colorado case (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Civil Rights Commission) the state supreme court upheld the civil rights panel's finding that a Lakewood, Colorado baker named Jack Phillips, an evangelical Christian who opposes same-sex marriage on conscience grounds, violated anti-discrimination law by declining to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.