MSNBC legal analyst and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Weissmann was taken aback by the Supreme Court’s decision in a case involving a would-be graphics designer who said her free speech would be violated.
On Friday, the court ruled in favor of a Colorado Lorie Smith, who said she wants to – but has yet to – design wedding websites. She claimed she is reluctant to do so because state law would mandate she create sites for same-sex couples.
Justice Neil Gorsuch penned the 6-3 decision. In the dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a blistering critique and called the ruling “profoundly wrong.”
This case had been dogged by the question of standing. For a plaintiff to have standing, they must show they were harmed in some way. However, in this case, the plaintiff had suffered no injury and had not even created a graphics design business yet.
Weissmann addressed this issue on Friday’s Deadline: White House.
“In this country, you cannot bring a case that is a hypothetical,” Weissmann said. “You can’t say to the court, ‘You know, here’s a situation I’m thinking of in my mind. Can you give me a ruling on what you would do?’ You need to have something called a case or controversy. There has to be a real dispute.”
He went on to say the court only hears a few dozen cases a year, which means “it needs to decide real cases” because “it doesn’t have enough time to do hypotheticals.”
Weissmann said the court’s ruling is bizarre because it was based purely on a hypothetical.
“And the thing that’s so amazing about this case is that this is somebody who, there was no real issue,” he continued. “There was no complaint. This wasn’t even somebody who had opened up a business. This was somebody who said, ‘Hey, I’m thinking I might open a business and I’m thinking that I might want to discriminate against same-sex marriage couples.”
Weissmann noted that there was no actual same-sex couple who had asked anything of her.
“So, the whole thing was a hypothetical,” he added. “Just remarkable that that becomes the vehicle.”
He then stated the court did not apply the law properly.
“And if you don’t have the Supreme Court at least, you know, in good faith applying the law, it is impossible to have respect for that institution,” Weissmann said.
Watch above via MSNBC.