Apple CEO Tim Cook should know better than to freak out over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). His company was also the victim of media alarmism and hyperbole.
A few months ago, the media was frothing over seemingly millions of people bending their $650 iPhones in their pockets. #BendGate became a trending topic on Twitter. A couple of thousand... yes, thousand... videos appeared on YouTube portraying “bending iPhone” crises.
The iPhone is fragile! The iPhone is junk! Quick, replace it with a Droid! Panic!
Apple responded by reporting that only six customers complained to Apple about bending phones.
So, Mr. Cook, how many LGBT people have suffered the intolerance of religious people denying gay people seats in their restaurants due to RFRA laws?
Fewer than six, sir.
Zero. Take a breath.
To all of the executives of corporations being successfully lobbied by well-funded propagandist leftwing organizations, take a breath, consult some attorneys who have actually worked in this specific arena and calmly evaluate the actual potential consequences.
I communicated with a university law professor who has done just that.
Michael McConnell is the Director of the Stanford University Constitutional Law Center. He has taught at the Harvard Law School. He has served as a federal judge. The Supreme Court reviewed four cases in which Judge McConnell wrote an opinion. In each case the Court concurred with opinions of Judge McConnell. He has successfully represented clients in RFRA cases.
Here is what this learned and practiced scholar with special experience in RFRA cases says about the Indiana RFRA:
“The federal RFRA also applies to businesses, including corporations, as the Supreme Court held by a 7-2 vote in Hobby Lobby. It is true that the Indiana law removes the confusion and division among the courts about application to private lawsuits. But it should apply to private lawsuits. The First Amendment applies to private lawsuits, like ‘New York Times v. Sullivan’, where a southern police commissioner sued the newspaper for criticizing his treatment of civil rights protestors. I represented a Jehovah’s Witness in a free exercise case (Munn v. Algee) where the plaintiff was seriously injured in a car accident, and the man who caused the accident claimed she should have been forced to take a blood transfusion contrary to her religious beliefs in order to reduce his damages. When the LDS Church built a temple in Massachusetts, neighbors went to court under state and local law to try to prevent it. The Church prevailed (by going all the way to the Supreme Court), but a RFRA would have helped.
This does not “justify discrimination” any more than it opens the door do any of the hundreds of other ‘parades of horribles’ like justifying child sacrifice, animal torture, or drug abuse, which opponents of religious freedom protections always trot out. These extreme cases do not come up in real life, and if they came up, the RFRA claimant would lose. It is precisely because preventing discrimination is such an important matter that (such) RFRA claims would likely lose in court.”
It’s disturbing to watch the presumably sane CEO of a large and successful company like Apple panic over such unfounded fear.
Cook recently said, “These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”
And yet, they haven’t.
These bills were created and signed during Democratic President Bill Clinton’s administration because the Supreme Court went overboard ruling against religious plaintiffs and defendants in the 1980’s and in 1991, Employment Division of Oregon v Smith the Court ruled that states and municipalities no longer had to show a “compelling governmental interest” to justify laws infringing on religious exercise.
This inspired Democrats and Republicans alike to return to the belief that “governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification.”
Perhaps Mr. Cook should show his sincerity by pulling all of his stores and products from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Uganda and Qatar where gays are jailed and slaughtered before threatening Indiana.
Another sincere suggestion: Ignore Democratic governors boycotting Indiana.
Contact Rick at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @Jensen1150WDEL