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Court Hears Two Free Speech Cases

Court Hears Two Free Speech Cases


Two First Amendment cases being heard in the U.S. Supreme Court this week and next are laying the groundwork for when the court eventually considers the question of same-sex marriage.

According to The New York Times, the two cases, regarding the right of a Christian student group to bar gay members in California and the disclosure of petition signatures for Referendum 71 in Washington state, could be viewed as "proxy battles" for the same-sex marriage debate in the high court.

In the first case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, heard Monday, the justices considered the right of a Christian student group to bar gay members from leadership positions. Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, a public school in the University of California system, withdrew recognition for the group because of its discriminatory policy.

"Advocates of traditional marriage say their free speech rights are under assault, as a brief in Monday's case put it, for holding views 'contrary to the reigning zeitgeist,'" reports the Times. "Proponents of same-sex marriage say their adversaries mistake debate for harassment and have a lot of nerve to claim the mantle of victim.

"The divide between the two sides is even starker in the case to be argued next week, Doe v. Reed, No. 09-559. The question there is whether Washington State's open records law violates the free speech rights of people who signed ballot petitions by requiring their names to be made public. Some of those people say they fear retaliation and harassment from advocates of same-sex marriage."

v. Reed will be heard next Wednesday, April 28.

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