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Supreme Court Hands Democrats a Win in Virginia Gerrymandering Case

17 June 2019

Last term, the court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who was sued by the state for discrimination.

The largest-known USA uranium deposit will remain firmly under ground after the Supreme Court on Monday upheld Virginia's moratorium on mining the radioactive metal, rebuffing a challenge backed by the Trump administration to the ban.

The Klein petition was filed by the Texas-based law firm First Liberty in October and been pending before the Supreme Court for almost a year.

"This is a victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty for all Americans", said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute, a cause lawyering firm that represents the Klein family.

But in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, the justices sidestepped the question of whether baking a cake was an expressive act protected by the First Amendment, and whether requiring a baker to make gay wedding cakes is a form of compelled speech. "The message from the Court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated". The bakers refused to make a cake to celebrate the same-sex wedding of Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman.

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Photo of the exterior of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon on February 5, 2013.

In a subsequent proceeding, state officials found that the Kleins violated Oregon's public accommodations law. The women, the lawyers contend, were going from business to business to trap someone so they could then sue.

The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the decision from the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries.

On remand from the justices, the OR court will search the case record for evidence of anti-religious animus against the Kleins.

The florist, represented by the Christian conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom, promised to again present the case to the Supreme Court for a decision on the merits. "There's nothing wrong with applying non-discrimination laws to ensure that businesses are open to all". Virginia's attorney general declined to appeal, but the House continued the litigation when it asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

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The case represented an opportunity for the Court's conservative majority to expand upon the ruling they handed down a year ago in the case of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who was fined after refusing to bake a custom wedding cake for a gay couple.

Another similar case decided earlier also resulted in the Supreme Court refusing to decide the issue. When the same-sex couple was denied service, the mother of one of the individuals who was in present in the store complained. Klein responded by quoting Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination".

Moreover, the $135,000 penalty levied against Aaron and Melissa Klein surprised some legal observers, who speculated the fine might be lowered upon re-evaluation of the case.

"Virginia would rather stop than fight on", Ginsburg wrote. It also punted a controversial OR cake-shop case - dealing with gay rights vs. religious freedom - sending it back to a lower court.

The Supreme Court avoided wading more deeply into the constitutional law of racial gerrymandering.

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Supreme Court Hands Democrats a Win in Virginia Gerrymandering Case