The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson (with whom I happen to disagree on same-sex marriage) appeared on Ed Schultz’s MSNBC program (cough) last night to discuss Indiana’s religious freedom law, and the resulting conversation culminated with the host instructing producers to silence Anderson’s microphone.End of Discussion:
Schultz advances one false or misleading narrative after another, then loses his composure when Anderson (or “Mr. Ryan,” as Schultz calls him at one point) replies with rapid-fire factual corrections. Schultz interrupts Anderson’s first answer almost immediately to contest the statement that Indiana’s law is effectively the same as other RFRAs, including the federal law, which have been on the books for many years.
They are, in fact, virtually identical, with two relatively minor exceptions: First, the Hoosier State’s law specifies that businesses are free to use RFRA claims to defend themselves from administrative sanctions and lawsuits, and second, it allows RFRA defenses to be mounted within private legal disputes that do not directly involve the government. Anderson calmly explains that Indiana’s legislative text reflects both the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby precedent, as well as the obvious reality that organizations like the New York Times and MSNBC can exercise First Amendment rights despite being corporations.
On the second small distinction, which Schultz didn’t raise, four US circuit courts and the Obama DOJ have affirmed that RFRA protections can apply in cases involving private entities.\