Dangerous Settlement

Bob Updegrove, a Virginia-based photographer, has settled his case against the State of Virginia and its Virginia Values Act, which barred “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public and private employment, public accommodations, and access to credit. The Act includes denying folks their right to demur on the basis of their religious beliefs.

Citing the recent 303 Creative LLC v Elenis Supreme Court case, Updegrove’s case was ultimately dismissed by both parties in appeals court on the agreement that he would not be forced to take part in same-sex weddings.

Agreement. Settlements start out being dangerous, since they’re binding only on the parties to the litigation, and they depend on the agreeing parties adhering to their agreements. In the Updegrove case, the settlement does not prevent the State from enforcing its Act against other photographers, other graphic designers, or anyone else who objects to something based on their own religious beliefs.

Worse, it depends on Virginia’s AG, Jason Miyares’, word. Which he immediately exposed as questionable:

“As Attorney General, my highest duty is to the federal Constitution. I am pleased that with the settlement, the law is upheld at no cost to the taxpayers and Mr Updegrove’s First Amendment rights are preserved,” he added.
The attorney general, however, still maintains the authority to enforce the Virginia Values Act, including against Updegrove, based on conduct outside the complaint.

Updegrove’s First Amendment rights are not circumscribed by the bounds of this specific case. His rights extend throughout his life, yet Miyares has just committed to attempting to cut short those rights whenever he can find something outside this settlement on which to do so.

Better would have been to force the matter through the courts and get Virginia’s Act itself cut short on the basis of the Supreme’s 303 Creative LLC v Elenis ruling.

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