Double standard? Religious animus? Five links to help dissect SCOTUS ruling on Trump's travel ban

How does the much-discussed Masterpiece Cakeshop case relate to this week's long-awaited U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Trump's ban on travel from five Muslim-majority countries?

Astute journalists — including Godbeat pros — immediately tackled that key question after the court's 5-4 decision Tuesday. 

Two key words in the best coverage: religious liberty.

More on that in a moment. But first, a little background: Speaking at the Religious Freedom Annual Review at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, last week, law professor Thomas Berg drew a connection between the two recent cases.

These days, many support some people's religious freedom — be it that of conservative Christians or Muslim immigrants — but the same folks tend not to have sympathy for the other side, said Berg, who teaches at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

He added on Twitter:

Does that statement apply to the nation's highest court?

Here are five helpful links to news stories and analysis pieces delving into the religious freedom angle of Tuesday's ruling:

1. Does the Supreme Court have a double standard on religion?

CNN Religion Editor Daniel Burke's lede gets right to the point:

(CNN) Less than a month ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Christian baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple's wedding, saying a state commission's ruling against him was rooted in anti-religious hostility.
On Tuesday, in upholding President Donald Trump's travel ban, five Supreme Court justices ruled that his critical statements about Islam and Muslims, both as a candidate and as chief executive, don't matter.
Outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, protesters and members of Congress accused the justices of adopting a double standard: one set of rules for white Christians and another for Muslims and other religious minorities.
"It's an obvious contradiction," said Rep. André Carson of Indiana, a Democrat who's one of two Muslims in Congress. "It's absolutely apparent that there is a double standard."

Later, Burke quotes Ira C. Lupu, an expert on religion and constitutional law at George Washington University:

"It is a double standard," Lupu said, "and it is justified to a point."

2. Why many religious liberty groups are silent about the Supreme Court’s decision on Trump’s travel ban

From Washington Post religion writer Michelle Boorstein's report:

Many prominent legal and advocacy groups who describe themselves as focused on religious liberty put out no statements Tuesday about the travel-ban ruling, despite the arguments raised in the case about religious discrimination. In contrast, the groups, which were primarily of the conservative bent,  put out immediate statements Tuesday about another decision by the court — one saying antiabortion crisis-pregnancy centers cannot be required to tell clients about the availability of other state-offered services, including abortion.
The groups included Becket; the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention; and the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Several more liberal religious-liberty groups spoke out against the ruling as discriminatory, including the Interfaith Alliance and the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty.
Conservative-leaning groups that did offer comment Tuesday said that they didn’t consider the travel-ban case to include a key religious-liberty value, and instead viewed it through a national-security lens.

3. SCOTUS upholds Trump's travel ban. Here's why experts say the ruling contradicts the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision

Deseret News religion writer Kelsey Dallas notes:

Some legal scholars and analysts, including Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the ruling contradicts the Supreme Court's decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, which said anti-religion bias from a government official cannot be tolerated.
"In both instances, the question is whether a government actor exhibited tolerance and neutrality in reaching a decision that affects individuals' fundamental religious freedom," Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, which was joined by Ginsburg. "The government actors in this case will not be held accountable for breaching the First Amendment's guarantee of religious neutrality and tolerance," unlike in Masterpiece.

Valuable context from Dallas' report:

During oral arguments on April 25, the justices disagreed on how to treat the president's tweets and campaign statements about Islam. The court's more conservative members rejected the characterization of the travel policy as a Muslim ban, while liberal justices said it was fair to consider what Trump had said in social media and at campaign rallies.
"If you look at what was done, it does not look at all like a Muslim ban," said Justice Samuel Alito, noting the policy affects only around 8 percent of the world's Muslims.
"The question is not really what (Trump's) heart of hearts is. The question is what are reasonable observers to think," Kagan said.
The ruling shows Alito's viewpoint won out, Berg said, noting that concerns about interfering with the president's authority carried more weight than concerns about anti-Muslim discrimination.

4. Supreme Court upholds Trump's travel ban:

Critics quoted by Religion News Service national correspondent Jack Jenkins include Cornell Law School professor Nelson Tebbe:

“In the Cakeshop case, the Court found that one or two statements by a multi-member board of officials sufficed to overturn its actions,” said Tebbe, who signed on to the same amicus brief as Schwartzman, in an email. “In the travel ban case, by contrast, overwhelming evidence of animus by a single decision maker, the President, was insufficient to overturn a policy with an obvious, discriminatory effect.”

5. With travel ban upheld, Arizona Muslims ask: Is religious freedom only for some?

Arizona Republic reporters Maria Polletta and Ronald J. Hansen offer nice local reaction from Muslims as well as expert legal input, including this:

Paul Bender, a professor at ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law who specializes in constitutional law and religious-freedom issues, said he understood the backlash to Tuesday's ruling, calling it a "symbolic" decision.
But he also understood "the court's reluctance to strike this thing down," he said. 
"It's very hard for the court to rule that something the president does is unconstitutional when the order itself is not unconstitutional on its face," he said. "If in an official order he said, 'I'm going to keep people out because they're Muslim,' and the court let that go by, that would be really important (from a legal standpoint). But he didn't say that."

Finally, here's a bonus story — via the Post — that I found interesting and compelling:

Feel free to share any other links to noteworthy coverage — good or bad — in the comments section or by tweeting us at @GetReligion.

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