“Sotomayor Supported Censoring Biblical Verse on Homosexuality from New York City Billboard”:

That’s the headline on a CNSNews.com article. But if you look closely at what Judge Sotomayor actually did, the headline — and some other statements of the rest of the story — doesn’t really fit. (Note that the CNSNews article has been linked to by quite a few other sources.)

Here’s what happened in the case: Kristopher Okwedy’s Keyword Ministries made a deal with a billboard company to put up the following billboards on Staten Island:

Word on the Street
4 WAYS TO SAY LEVITICUS 18:22
THOU SHALL NOT LIE WITH MANKIND AS WITH WOMANKIND: IT IS ABOMINATION (KING JAMES)
YOU SHALL NOT LIE WITH A MALE AS WITH FEMALE: THAT WILL BE LOATHSOME (JAMES MOFFAT)
DO NOT LIE WITH A MAN AS WITH A WOMAN: IT IS DETESTABLE (BERKLEY VERSION)
HOMOSEXUALITY IS ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN FOR IT IS AN ENORMOUS SIN (LIVING BIBLE)
I AM YOUR CREATOR

Guy Molinari, Staten Island Borough President, responded by sending a letter to the billboard company that said:

For the last two days we have attempted to contact your office, without success ….

I write regarding the recent appearance on two of your Staten Island billboards of four translations of Leviticus. As you are probably aware this particular biblical verse is commonly invoked as a biblical prohibition against homosexuality.

The sponsor for the billboard message is nowhere apparent on the billboard, so I am writing to you with the hope that I can establish a dialogue with both yourself and the sponsor as quickly as possible.

Both you and the sponsor of this message should be aware that many members of the Staten Island community, myself included, find this message unnecessarily confrontational and offensive. As Borough President of Staten Island I want to inform you that this message conveys an atmosphere of intolerance which is not welcome in our Borough.

P.N.E. Media owns a number of billboards on Staten Island and derives substantial economic benefits from them. I call on you as a responsible member of the business community to please contact Daniel L. Master, my legal counsel and Chair of my Anti-Bias Task Force … to discuss further the issues I have raised in this letter.

The billboard company then took the signs down. Okwedy and Keyword Ministries then sued Molinari for violating the Free Speech Clause, the Free Exercise Clause, and the Establishment Clause. (There was also an Equal Protection Clause claim, but that was in essence the same as the Free Speech Clause claim.)

What did the Second Circuit panel, on which Judge Sotomayor was a member, do? It held in some measure for Okwedy on his Free Speech Clause claim. It reasoned (in my view quite correctly) that “Plaintiffs