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October 20, 2014

Top Headline Comments 10-20-14

Happy Monday.

Overbroad public accommodation laws strike again. A couple operating a wedding chapel in Idaho have sued to enjoin their city's public accommodation non-discrimination law as applied to their business, which a city ordinance defines as a public accommodation. The city has said it could fine them (and escalate to jail time) if the couple refuses to allow same-sex weddings at the chapel.

At present, 21 states have public accommodations laws that prohibit anti-gay discrimination, in addition to the more typical prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and national origin. Additionally, many cities in states without such broad public accommodations have adopted their own ordinances, which seems to be the case here (Idaho does not cover anti-gay discrimination in its public accommodation law).

In each of those states and cities, folks operating businesses covered by public accommodations laws, which includes pretty much every business not specifically exempted, including wedding chapels, could face the threat of fines or, as in this case, jail time from overzealous city and state attorneys.

Is that legal or constitutional? In the case of wedding chapels, no, it is not. Click there for the explanation, since Eugene Volokh has done the legwork.

Yesterday, President Obama gave a speech on behalf of Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown. And the crowd started leaving early.

This was a bewildering state of affairs--to the press. As our own Lauraw noted, however, these journalists just couldn't figure out how to figure out what was going on:

We may never know why people started bailing early on the president. I wish there were a group of people whose purpose was to find that sort of thing out and then tell the rest of us about it.

The family of Thomas Eric Duncan will be released from quarantine today. No virus.

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