Kennedy: To Compel Citizens To Contradict Their Most Deeply Held Beliefs Is Authoritarian

It does appear that viewpoint discrimination is inherent in the design and structure of this Act. This law is a paradigmatic example of the serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression. For here the State requires primarily pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the State’s own preferred message advertising abortions. This compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs, beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical, or religious precepts, or all of these. And the history of the Act’s passage and its underinclusive application suggest a real possibility that these individuals were targeted because of their beliefs.

The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of “forward thinking.” App. 38–39. But it is not forward thinking to force individuals to “be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.” Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U. S. 705, 715 (1977). It is forward think- ing to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come. Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.

Justice Kennedy, concurring opinion in NIFLA v Becerra (June, 2018).

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  1. Long ago, when I lived in Taiwan, I met an elderly man from China’s Northeast (the Manchuria of your High School textbook). He explained that the Japanese were better than the Communists, because, “the Japanese at least allowed you to stay quiet.”

    The demand that all of us celebrate the passion of the moment and celebrate the same Leftist and feminist canon is about as illiberal as you can get. Perhaps our era is witnessing the whole of the liberal tradition collapsing into a new tyranny.

  2. This is playing out in a “push/pull” manner between the states and federal government. 38 states put gay “marriage” on th e ballot and it failed in all 38 states, but the federal government (Supreme court) gave it to us anyway. 5 fools in black robes over-rode system established by the states. Now several coastal states are trying to go full-Sodom as their systems collapse under the weight of their financial obligations and the Supreme court is over-riding them, but they created the problems in the first place because of Roe V. Wade and Obergefell. Neither the states nor the Feds are happy with the current arrangement. This obviously can’t go on forever. Meanwhile, it gets harder and harder to obey the law. We’re trending towards the system in countries where there are laws on the books and people mostly ignore them because they have to.

    Theodore Beza and Calvin would argue that local magistrates should push state and federal magistrates to obey natural laws and follow their own laws. We can’t even seem to organize at a municipal level so we argue about things 1000 miles away.

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