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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 16
Arts & Entertainment
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Letters

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM'S LIMITS

Richland florist Barronelle Stutzman's claim of violation of her First Amendment right to free exercise of religion ('State sues anti-Gay florist,' SGN, April 12) is a losing legal argument. Who says? None other than right-wing Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Writing for a unanimous Court, including right-wing Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in Oregon v. Smith (1990), Scalia wrote, 'We have never held that an individual's beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. ... [T]he record of more than a century of our free-exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. ... [T]he right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).'

In other words, the 'tail' doesn't get to wag the 'dog.' It wasn't the intent of the drafters of the First Amendment to allow individuals to flout public policy in the name of religious freedom. To the contrary, such would constitute license or even tyranny of religion, for individuals to do so.

The above-cited Supreme Court decision is also why plaintiffs in Stormans v. Selecky, the Washington state pharmacist's lawsuit challenging the requirement to stock and sell Plan B (the 'morning-after pill'), will lose before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It's also why the Roman Catholic Church will lose their lawsuits against the U.S. government over the federal requirement that all employers must cover abortion and contraception in their respective health insurance policies for their employees.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is to be commended for pursuing his lawsuit to make a public example of Ms. Stutzman. Nobody is above the law, based upon religion.

Steven L. Kendall
Seattle

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Rewriting Jessie Ware - The British journalist-turned-singer makes her U.S. debut
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Sensational Swan Lake shimmers at McCaw Hall
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The Trial will arrest your attention
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Just desserts - The Gingerbread House is a spicy, if insubstantial, dark comedy
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A flash of brilliance - Flashdance: The Musical surpasses all expectations
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Musical minds - Seattle U concert is a lesson in what makes an artist
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Visually spectacular Oblivion an unoriginal muddle
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Good company - Robert Redford's latest directorial effort is familiar yet entertaining
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Playing catch-up with the Oscars - 2012's most celebrated films are now out on Blu-ray
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Crystal Castles gets an upgrade
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Northwest News
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Letters
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