Fox News criticized the Supreme Court's decision not to hear a case involving a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to serve a same-sex couple, inviting a hate group leader to condemn non-discrimination laws and asserting that prohibiting businesses from refusing service to gay people is a form of “involuntary servitude.”
On April 7, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Elane Photography, a New Mexico studio that was sued under the state's non-discrimination statute after its owner refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. Though it's unclear what motivated the Supreme Court's decision, opponents of LGBT equality condemned the Supreme Court for allegedly refusing to protect religious liberty.
One of the Supreme Court's critics was Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC), who appeared on The Kelly File with Megyn Kelly to condemn New Mexico's non-discrimination law:
Kelly, who has previously promised and failed to hold Perkins accountable for his anti-gay extremism, didn't push back as Perkins argued in favor of allowing businesses to refuse service to gay customers as long as they could produce a religious justification for doing so.
Later in the segment, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano criticized New Mexico's anti-discrimination law, arguing that prohibiting business from discriminating against groups of customers amounted to “involuntary servitude”:
NAPOLITANO: The compulsion to perform the service, compulsion by law, is what violates the ancient and natural and personal right to refuse to do business with whomever you don't want to do business with without having to justify it to the government. That is a right that is now gone.
NAPOLITANO: When the courts force you to perform a service that is not food, shelter, or clothing, they are really forcing you to engage in involuntary servitude.
Playing “devil's advocate,” Kelly correctly points out that Napolitano's arguments could be used to justify discriminating against customers on the basis of race. Napolitano oddly dismisses her argument by noting that racial discrimination is illegal in the U.S. (sexual orientation discrimination is illegal in New Mexico, thus the lawsuit.)
The segment is a dramatic change in tone from the way Fox was talking about anti-gay discrimination just two months ago, as Arizona considered a bill that would have legalized anti-gay business discrimination - a law explicitly spurred by cases like the New Mexico photographer's. Then, as Arizona's SB 1062 inched closer to becoming a reality, Kelly called the law "potentially dangerous" for opening the door to widespread discrimination against gay customers. Napolitano similarly called the law "profoundly unconstitutional," arguing that business owners aren't allowed to make decisions based on “hatred or stereotypes.”
Now that Fox's anti-gay hangover has subsided, the network is back to promoting the kinds of anti-gay horror stories that spurred discriminatory legislation like SB 1062 in the first place.