Judge: Hands Off Hands On!

Barb Wire

When the Constitution protects the freedom of the press, it includes t-shirt presses! The owners of a Kentucky screen printing shop are relieved that at least one court recognizes it and ruled in the Lexington business’s favor. Three years after an LGBT group filed a complaint that Blaine Anderson’s Hands On Originals wouldn’t print gay pride t-shirts, a Fayette County Circuit Court sided with the owners, ruling that no one should be forced to engage in speech they disagree with — including small business owners.

Initially, the city’s Human Rights Commission found Anderson “guilty” of breaking the town’s “fairness” ordinance and sentenced him to “diversity training.” At the time, the Commission’s Executive Director, Raymond Sexton, infamously said it’s time for Christians in the marketplace “to leave their religion at home.”

This court disagrees, explaining that “Hands On Originals and its owners have a constitutional right of freedom of expression from government coercion.” Because, Judge James Ishmael explains, “the Commission’s order requires HOO and its owners to print shirts that convey messages contrary to their faith, that Order inflicts a substantial burden on their free exercise of religion.” It was a tremendous victory for religious liberty after a string of bad decisions — like Aaron and Melissa Klein’s. We applaud our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom for battling this notion that surrendering our First Amendment rights is just the “price of doing business.”

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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