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Opinion Welcome to the Supreme Court’s hypothetical Christmas mall village!

Be sure to visit Grandma Helen’s Protestant Provisions, right next to I’m Just A Chair Guy And I Know My Chairs Aren’t Speech! (Idrees Mohammed/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Welcome to Supreme Court Oral Argument Hypotheticals Christmas Village, or SCOAHCV for short. We’re so glad you’ve decided to spend your holiday season in this very special mall populated entirely by imaginary stores invented by justices to use in Supreme Court oral argument, this time in the case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis.

To suss out the implications of a decision in favor of the web designer who wants to refuse to design wedding sites for gay couples, the justices on Monday piled on hypothetical after hypothetical, enough to fill a whole mall. Well, this is that mall, and we are trying our best to celebrate Christmas! Welcome! I’m Frankfurter the Greeter Elf!

Let me show you around before you get going to see one of our two Santas (hypothetical businesses courtesy of Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Samuel A. Alito Jr.), and maybe rent some chairs from I’m Just A Chair Guy And I Know My Chairs Aren’t Speech (Justice Elena Kagan)!

Mm, smell that delicious smell! That’s one of our most popular businesses: Grandma Helen’s Protestant Provisions, another hypothetical from Justice Jackson. Want to go inside? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Protestant! Anyone can go inside! But, yes, the special homemade treats that are baked using Grandma Helen’s recipes are off-limits to non-Protestants. Yes, employees will ask. Grandma Helen was a religious bigot who wanted to bake only for those who shared her faith, so the staff here will engage you in conversation about your religious heritage. That’s what the really long line is for: the conversation. They have to do that, for the hypothetical.

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Is that our strangest business? Oh, absolutely not! No, I wish that were our strangest business. Oh, look, here is Josh! He’s a photographer, and Justice Alito felt that it was important that I share with you that he is Jewish. Do you need a photograph taken for JDate, a dating website geared toward Jewish people? Or for AshleyMadison.com, a website for finding extramarital affairs? Josh has to take both, even if he disapproves!

Resultingly, he actually does a special package for both JDate and AshleyMadison, kind of an insurance if your JDate leads to marriage and then the marriage doesn’t go superbly! That way if you get caught, you will get to answer a lot of fun questions, like, “Why is the background in your affair-website photo the same as the one that first caught my eye on JDate?”

What’s that place? Oh, that’s the headquarters of an LGBTQ organization that, we think, prints wedding announcements? Let Justice Amy Coney Barrett explain: “So it’s a — it’s a — it’s a — it’s a gay rights enterprise. It’s a — it’s a group run by, you know, people who are interested in promoting gay rights, and it’s a forum to celebrate gay marriage. They charge. You make money, and you run marriage announcements that have our story, et cetera.” We don’t really understand their vibe either!

Next door is a photography studio where you can get a racist photograph taken with Santa. Yes, sorry, I should have led with the reason we have two Santas: One is racist, and one is regular. Racist Santa is technically called Scenes With Santa, where you get a sepia-tone photograph taken with Santa in a very customized, creative experience meant to evoke the 1940s, a time the owners feel very strongly featured no Black people in photographs. Don’t call him Segregation Santa; he prefers “‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Authentic Experience Santa.”

Do we love having this business in our mall? No! But unless somebody firmly rules Justice Jackson’s hypothetical unconstitutional, we think we have to accommodate it!

Don’t worry, we also have a regular Santa who will take pictures with anyone. According to Justice Alito, he is Black. Regular Santa you would think would be a better experience, but he is constantly being beset by children in KKK costumes, something we don’t like at all but Justice Alito insisted on in his hypothetical. Justice Alito is responsible for some of our weirdest businesses!

All that legal reasoning work up an appetite? Too bad! The restaurants in our food court, courtesy of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, are so unbearably, unbelievably expressive that they consider their products to be speech. That’s why they are refusing service to many protected categories of person! Sorry, not service; “food speech.” Is it good? I don’t know! They won’t, er, speak to me with their food.

Are they allowed to do that? We have that same question! We have that question about most of the businesses here, honestly, except Regular Chair Guy. We are pretty sure he is fine.

It all depends on the ruling in 303 Creative. Depending on the outcome, some of these businesses might stop being hypotheticals and come very soon to a mall near you!

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