This item also criticizes Judge Sotomayor for the panel decision that I note above. It at least acknowledges in the second paragraph that the panel held for Okwedy on one issue, but nonetheless concludes:
The case raises troubling issues. After all, the church was posting a purely religious message with no statements regarding public policy. The opinion suggests that Sotomayor may view the First Amendment through the lenses of political correctness. Would a billboard proclaiming "gay pride month," which is offensive to many Christians, have been similarly treated? Sotomayor should be asked.
Setting aside Okwedy's claim that the Molinari letter was an implied threat of government retaliation against the billboard company, which would have violated the Free Speech Clause — that's the issue on which Sotomayor and the other judges held Okwedy should prevail, if he could prove the factual underpinnings — there's little troubling in the panel decision. Government officials are entitled to criticize people who oppose homosexuality (or support polygamy or advocate pacifism or urge socialism), whether the people who are criticized are making religious arguments or secular arguments. And that's true even if the arguments simply quote the Bible; on matters such as these (I set aside purely theological questions such as the nature of the Trinity), moral beliefs have secular implications.
Religious speakers, like other speakers, have a right to be free from coercive suppression of their speech. But they have no right to be free from criticism of their speech (perhaps setting aside the purely theological issues I noted above, as to which the government is supposed to have no opinion). To the extent Molinari's actions might have constituted coercive suppression, the panel rightly let Okwedy try to prove that for his Free Speech Clause claim. But setting that aside, the criticism of hostility towards homosexuality (whether secular or religious) is not a constitutional violation.
Related Posts (on one page):
- "Sotomayor Supported Censoring Biblical Verse on Homosexuality from New York City Billboard":
- Family Research Council on the Okwedy v. Molinari Case: