SCOTUS to Hear Landmark Gay Wedding Cake Case

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The Supreme Court will hear
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights
Commission
, one of its most contentious
cases, on Tuesday. At issue is whether or not the state of
Colorado violated baker Jack Phillips’s First Amendment rights
by compelling him to bake a cake for a gay wedding.

The five-year-old legal battle between Phillips and Colorado
began in 2012, when Phillips refused to make a cake for couple
David Mullins and Charlie Craig. Instead, he offered to sell
them baked goods. In court documents,
Phillips says he
“gladly serves people from all walks of
life, including individuals of all races, faiths, and sexual
orientations. But he cannot design custom cakes that express
ideas or celebrate events at odds with his religious
beliefs.”

The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights
Commission which found that Phillips violated the
state’s anti-discrimination law
, prohibiting public
businesses from discriminating on the basis of gender,
ancestry, race, and sexual orientation. Phillips appealed that
decision, but the ruling was
upheld
by the state Court of Appeals.

In what’s bound to be a major religious liberties case, the
Supreme Court must decide whether or not Colorado’s
anti-discrimination laws infringe on the First Amendment rights
of business owners. Essentially, the Supreme Court must decide
if Phillips is allowed to refuse service to LGBTQ clients
because of his religious beliefs. Phillips’s
lawyers describe
him as a “cake artist” who will not
“create cakes celebrating any marriage that is contrary to his
understanding of biblical teaching.” In accordance with those
beliefs, Phillips will not make Halloween cakes,
“Anti-American” cakes, or cakes featuring profanity. Central to
Phillips’s argument is that Colorado’s laws amount to the state
compelling speech.


SCOTUS Blog
notes that Masterpiece “has a number
of allies,” including the Trump administration “which filed a
brief supporting the bakery.” As SCOTUS Blog notes, the federal
government agrees with Phillips, affirming the argument that
Colorado’s law “compels expressive conduct that conveys a
message to others, without allowing Phillips to make clear that
he does not share his customers’ viewpoints on same-sex
marriage.” Colorado, as well as Mullins and Craig, contend that
the state has a compelling interest in mandating
non-discrimination laws in business, in order to protect its
citizens and its ability to regulate all transactions within
the state.

Numerous states have had similar conflicts and the Supreme
Court’s decision could have serious implications, allowing a
broad base of business owners to refuse service to customers
simply by citing their religious belief system.

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