The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, actually thought it was a good idea to force a political consulting firm to promote views it opposed. The city declared that since the company was a “public accommodation,” it had no discretion to turn down business that didn’t align with what owners Grant Strobl and Jacob Chludzinski believe.
Strobl and Chludzinski are Christians and conservatives, and they take on clients who share their beliefs.
But the city changed its mind, and the parties agreed to end the lawsuit. Ann Arbor now says the consulting firm is not a “public accommodation.” From the owners’ legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF):
The stipulated dismissal filed with the court confirms that Ann Arbor does not consider ThinkRight to be subject to its public accommodations law “because ThinkRight will only provide its services in ways that promote, or are not contrary to, its conservative political beliefs and therefore limits the platforms, views, policies, causes, events, or messages it will convey or promote through its goods and services.”
“The First Amendment protects people’s freedom to choose what to say and what to endorse, and Americans don’t have to wait to be punished to protect this freedom,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs, director of the ADF Center for Conscience Initiatives.
It strains credulity that the government would disregard the purpose of a business and force owners to support views and causes that undermine their purpose, as ADF noted. Owners would face fines that might lead to bankruptcy. And the First Amendment protects individuals’ freedom not to speak on ideas they oppose.
March for Life had to endure similar pressure. The pro-life organization’s purpose is to promote life and protect the unborn. But under the Obamacare contraception mandate, March for Life would have had to offer employees birth control drugs that could end unborn life, since it didn’t fall under a religious exemption. A federal court ruled that the government couldn’t force the secular March for Life to undermine its own purpose.
Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom