Tuesday, June 5, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision Shows that Courts Can Consider Comments of Decision-Makers

Ballot Access News

On June 4, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in the wedding cake case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 16-111. As Rick Hasen points out, the decision turned on the fact that one of the members of the governmental body that had penalized the baker make comments showing bias against religion. Hasen writes here that this principle could influence the pending lawsuits on gerrymandering. Some legislators, who have voted for gerrymanders, have expressed the viewpoint that they are deliberately creating a gerrymander in order to hurt the other major party.
Similarly, when the Green and Constitution Parties were suing Tennessee over its severe rules for new political party access to the ballot, the party’s attorney tried to present evidence that the Tennessee legislators who had voted against bills easing the requirement had openly said in committee that they wanted to keep minor parties off the ballot. But the U.S. District Court Judge who was hearing the case refused to allow that information into the record. The Masterpiece Cakeshop precedent will be helpful in future ballot access cases, when there is evidence of state legislators’ intent.

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