Protected classes and Rule of Law

A discussion sparked by Amy Alkon’s post about the New Mexico ruling that business owners may not discriminate against Protected Classes of people also included a link to this post on Popehat about the legality of the measure under our current laws. Popehat quotes Justice Bosson’s concurrence, which includes the sentence: “Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering.”

Rule of law.

How interesting.

The ideal in this country is that all persons are equal under the rule of law… and yet we have these “protected classes” of people who receive special rights under the “rule of law” that other persons do not receive – even as described by Justice Bosson himself.

A rule of law that does not apply to all persons equally is inherently unjust.

Now, there are some instances where I think there is compelling reason for the government to step in and tell a privately-owned business that they cannot discriminate against anyone who meets basic standards of public decency and behavior (no shirt no shoes, no fighting in the aisles, etc.) – for instance, since food is necessary for life, and transportation is also a key needed item, grocery stores, car dealerships, phone and internet providers, and gas stations should not be permitted to discriminate against anyone for any reason other than improper public behavior. The government, as the only true “public accommodation,” certainly should not be discriminating except by behavior (and citizenship status, but that’s beside the point).

However, I think private persons ought to be allowed to discriminate however they please when it comes to renting an apartment or selling a house. Yes, shelter is necessary – but if no one in the community wants you there, you’d best take yourself elsewhere, because even if you can force them to let you live there, that’s not going to make them LIKE you, and they’re likely to start thinking up creative ways to make your life a living hell so that you’ll leave.

Everyone always brings up the Jim Crow South whenever these issues came up. People, a big part of the problem down there was due to the GOVERNMENT. They were the Jim Crow LAWS. Obviously that particular set of the “rule of law” was deemed inappropriate and thrown out. They expressly violated the concept of equality under the law!

Now let’s examine another quote by Justice Bossom: “At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. ”

And yet he believes that no accommodation should be permitted for the Huguenins values. The “little compromise” in this case would have been to tell the gay couple in question to find a different photographer. Instead, the court basically told the Huguenins, “Violate your religious beliefs to stay in business.” That contravenes not just freedom of religion and the freedom to pursue happiness, but also puts the Huguenins in the position of being told by the government, “We’re not going to let you earn a living unless you do it our way.” This is because the gay couple belongs to a “protected class” – and therefore it is their values that will be accommodated, always, and not the values of anyone else. And how is that a better “rule of law” than Jim Crow?

Popehat points out that people are outraged in matters like this concerning “gay rights” but not over racial discrimination, for example. Well, I don’t know what he’s been reading, but the people I read actually do all recognize that the freedom of association and the freedom to work and gain an income to live require allowing private business owners (not engaged in selling the most basic sustenance of life) to discriminate against people based on race, sex, and all those other Special Classes of Persons. So there goes that objection. The other issue is that other than Islam, I can’t think of a major religion that expressly demands its followers to discriminate on the basis of race. Seriously. Racial discrimination isn’t a core value of any major religion barring Islam. (And because Muslims have a significant number of loonies willing to cut people’s heads off For Allah, notice how none of these anti-discrimination lawsuits get brought against THEM.) So of course there is a huge outcry when people’s religious beliefs are trampled, and much less of an outcry when people’s mere tribal preferences are trampled. Especially in the modern era, when tribal preferences have been socially stigmatized but religious freedom is still an accepted ideal!

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