January 29, 2023

NOT OKKK: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court just said what about the Klan?

NOT OKKK: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court just said what about the Klan?

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As the Supreme Court ponders a case whose ruling could set a new precedent in free speech and discrimination, Justice Samuel Alito made an observation suggesting that forbidding a white mall Santa to reject children of color is the same as forcing a Black Santa to cater to customers in Ku Klux Klan robes.

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The case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, centers on whether a businessperson selling creative work has the right to reject customers who are LGTBQ or another protected class, based on the idea that a creative project (in this case a wedding website) is classified as the creator’s speech, and that she should not be forced to engage in “speech” (tacit approval of same-sex marriage) that she doesn’t support.

After Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson questioned whether the same claim of creative control would apply to, for instance, a mall Santa who refused to take photos with Black children because he was part of a creative project envisioned to show a specific ‘nostalgic’ 1940’s to 1950’s Christmas, Alito seemed to think he had a rebuttal to offer. He proposed an alternative Christmas hypothetical, in which the Santa was Black and the child was wearing Klan robes.

While Jackson’s imagined scene was a direct analogy to the case before the Court, addressing the claims of artistic control and exclusive vision, Alito’s seemed intended to flip the script by making the hypothetically-rejected child white — and putting him in racist gear.

Colorado’s solicitor general, Eric Olsen, gently explained to the Supreme Court Justice that, while “white” would be a protected class, “KKK” would not.

Alito said:

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“Justice Jackson’s example of a Santa in the mall who doesn’t want his picture taken with Black children. So if there’s a Black Santa at the other end of the mall and he doesn’t want his picture taken with a child who is dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, that Black Santa has to do that?”

When it was pointed out to Alito that a hooded robe would not be a protected characteristic, he seemed to hint that it would be a uniquely “white” trait, sarcastically saying, “You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits. All the time, right?”

We can all hope that Alito doesn’t actually frequently — or ever — see children of any race or skin color in KKK robes.

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Listen to the exchange below.

The response to Alito’s comments on social media was not positive in the least.

https://twitter.com/JoyAnnReid/status/1599819655740534784?s=20&t=a2-5MwDXAr3u5IYegOq3cw

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Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.

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