Obergefell and Forced Labor
With respect to Alexandra DeSanctis’s article “Religious Liberty after Obergefell” (June 12), it is surprising to me that no defendant has cited the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime, . . . shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The verdict against Ms. Stutzman of Richland, Wash., would force her to provide labor to another person under penalty of law in clear violation of the 13th Amendment. Requiring a store to sell off-the-shelf items to any purchaser is one thing; requiring personal service is quite another.
Robert C. Whitten
Alexandra DeSanctis responds: This particular argument hasn’t been used in court to defend the rights of businesspeople such as florist Barronelle Stutzman, but your last point seems to hint at one possible policy compromise. Many on the right and the left agree that there is a distinction between a pre-made bouquet, for example, and flowers custom-designed for a client, such as the ones Stutzman was asked to create. Because the latter involves personal artistry — and, as a result, can be understood as a sort of participation in a customer’s same-sex wedding ceremony — some believe business owners should be free to refuse. They would still be legally required, however, to sell pre-made bouquets off the shelf to every customer, no matter the event in question.
In the Week (June 26), the home paper of Bob Novak’s long-running column was identified as the Washington Post; in fact, it was the Chicago Sun-Times.
In John J. Miller’s “Fifty Flags,” in the same issue, the Maryland state flag’s crosses bottony were misidentified as fleurs-de-lis. The Ohio state flag was described as having the “angled shape of a cavalry guidon,” but in fact it combines the swallowtail of a cavalry guidon with the angled shape of a naval burgee.