Catholic League president Bill Donohue has denounced Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for comments she made Tuesday accusing her colleagues on the court of duplicity in their recent ruling in the case of Trump v. Hawaii.
“While Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is accusing some of her colleagues of duplicity for saying religious hostility was in play against the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision,” Donahue says, “she is right about one thing: duplicity is at work. But it is not her associates who are guilty—she is.”
In her written dissent, Sotomayor tried to create a parallelism between the current case and that of Masterpiece Cakeshop and said that the court should have ruled similarly in this case.
It is Sotomayor who is “selectively interested in religious liberty, not her colleagues,” Donahue wrote. “In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, where clearly anti-Christian comments were made by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission against Christian baker Jack Phillips, Sotomayor found no religious hostility whatsoever.”
Donahue points out that in the Masterpiece case, Sotomayor joined a written dissent by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg saying the actions of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission “do not evidence hostility to religion of the kind we have previously held to signal a free-exercise violation.”
“So when one member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission says Christianity is comparable to slavery and the Holocaust,” Donahue writes, “and another member says that no one has a right ‘to act on his religious beliefs if he wants to do business in this state,’ these remarks, according to Sotomayor, were not ‘motivated by hostility and animus’ toward Christianity.”
Sotomayor has established two bars for detecting religious hostility, one for Christians that reaches the sky and one for Muslims at ground level, Donahue added.
The Catholic League also criticized Sotomayor’s opinion that the travel ban was “motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith,” while failing to explain why only some Muslim-run nations were singled out. And “nor did she explain why nations having nothing to do with Islam—Venezuela and North Korea—were included in the restriction,” Donahue wrote.
The majority opinion in the case noted importantly that the Trump Proclamation “is facially neutral toward religion.”
While several nations covered by the Proclamation have Muslim-majority populations, Chief Justice Roberts observed that “that fact alone does not support an inference of religious hostility, given that the policy covers just 8% of the world’s Muslim population and is limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks.”
“The travel ban case was decided on the constitutional right of the chief executive to exercise his duties as commander-in-chief. Critical remarks about Muslim terrorists made by presidential-candidate Donald Trump were not found to be persuasive in overriding the right of the president to protect national security,” Roberts wrote.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome