The following comes from a Mar. 20 opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times.
For decades, liberals wielded the 1st Amendment to protect antiwar activists, civil rights protesters and government whistle-blowers.
These days, however, the Constitution’s protection for free speech and religious liberty has become the weapon of choice for conservatives.
This year’s Supreme Court term features an unusual array of potentially powerful 1st Amendment claims, all of them coming from groups on the right.
And in nearly every case, liberal groups — often in alliance with the Obama administration — are taking the opposing side, supporting state and federal laws that have come under attack for infringing upon the rights of conservatives.
The free-speech challenges include cases on campaign contribution limits, no-protest zones in front of abortion clinics and mandatory union dues for public employees.
At the same time, devout Christian employers are claiming their religious liberty should entitle them to an exemption from a provision in President Obama’s healthcare law requiring that full contraceptive coverage be offered to female employees.
And waiting on deck is a free-speech appeal from a Christian photography company challenging a New Mexico state law that bars businesses from discriminating against gays and lesbians.
Conservatives and libertarians say the role reversal at the high court reflects a larger shift in political alliances and attitudes toward government.
“The progressive mind-set sees government as a force for good,” said Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer for the libertarian Cato Institute. So, increasingly, “the energy behind those who are battling with the government” comes from libertarians and conservatives.
“This is a real trend over several years,” said Washington attorney Michael Carvin, a staunch conservative who led the constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act. “The liberals are in favor of an expansive federal government, and the conservatives are making the arguments for individual autonomy on speech and religion.”
To read the entire piece, click here.
Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin refused to photograph a lesbian couple in New Mexico