Justices decline cases on gay rights and campaign finance
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear closely watched cases on gay rights, campaign finance and lethal injections. As is their custom, the justices gave no reasons for turning down the appeals.
The gay rights case, Elane Photography v. Willock, No. 13-585, was an appeal from a wedding photographer in New Mexico who asserted a constitutional right to refuse to provide her services to gay and lesbian couples.
The issue was broadly similar to one argued before the court last month, over whether companies may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception on religious grounds.
The New Mexico case, however, was based not on a claim of religious liberty but on one of free speech.
The photographer, Elaine Huguenin, objected to a New Mexico law prohibiting businesses open to the public from discriminating against gay men and lesbians. She said that requiring her to photograph same-sex weddings violated her First Amendment rights because she was forced to say something she did not believe.
She rejected a request from a lesbian couple, Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth, to document their commitment ceremony.
The women, who hired another photographer, filed a discrimination complaint against Huguenin’s studio, Elane Photography.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled for the couple, saying Huguenin’s “services can be regulated, even though those services include artistic and creative work.” Laws banning discrimination, the court said, apply to “creative or expressive professions.”
The justices also declined to hear a campaign finance case, Iowa Right to Life Committee v. Tooker, No. 13-407, which was a challenge to an Iowa law that bans contributions from corporations but allows them from unions. The case was brought by James Bopp Jr., one of the lawyers on the winning side Wednesday in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a major campaign finance case.
The McCutcheon decision struck down aggregate contribution limits in federal elections.
Bopp challenged the Iowa law on two grounds. He said distinguishing between corporations and unions violated equal protection principles. In any event, he added, “banning corporate political contributions violates the First Amendment.”
The Supreme Court also declined to hear two cases concerning whether death row inmates have a constitutional right to know what chemicals states plan to use to execute them.