The Washington Examiner reports:
The Supreme Court decided Monday to hear a case involving a Colorado baker’s refusal to design and make a cake for a same-sex marriage. The baker, Jake Phillips, declined to make the custom cake and said it conflicted with his religious beliefs.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided that Phillips’ actions amounted to sexual orientation discrimination under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The Colorado Court of Appeals said the commission’s ruling did not violate the First Amendment because Phillips’ speech was “conduct compelled by a neutral and generally applicable law,” as attorneys for Phillips noted in their petition to the high court.
Think Progress reports:
The bakery claims both that its owner’s religious belief gives it a special right to defy the law, and that requiring the bakery to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding amounts to a form of compelled speech prohibited by the First Amendment. Neither of these arguments holds water under longstanding legal doctrines.
Yet, while the bakery does not have much law on its side, the timing of the Court’s announcement suggests that its most conservative members are eager to make some very significant changes to the law now that they have a new ally on the bench.
After receiving the bakery’s request to hear Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Court held the case over through five consecutive conferences of the justices without announcing whether or not they will hear the case. The most likely explanation for this behavior is that Roberts, Thomas, and Alito were biding their time until Neil Gorsuch would give them the fourth vote.
SCOTUS will review right of private parties to deny services to same-sex couples, particularly in industries involving expression.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 26, 2017
SCOTUS will hear the Masterpiece Cakeshop case (Colorado baker) pic.twitter.com/y3qN3xsPgk
— Equality Case Files (@EQCF) June 26, 2017
UPDATE: Tony Perkins reacts.
The U.S. Supreme Court now has an opportunity to issue a ruling that makes clear the government has no authority to force Americans like Jack Phillips to use their artistic talents to celebrate events with which they have a moral and/or religious disagreement.
With Justice Gorsuch now on the bench, we are more optimistic that the Supreme Court will uphold our nation’s long tradition of respecting the freedom of Americans to follow their deeply held beliefs, especially when it comes to participating in activities and ceremonies that so many Americans consider sacred.
The First Amendment has long protected Americans from being compelled by the government to advocate a message to which one objects. As Americans, our consensus on religious freedom has historically recognized the God-given right of Americans to live all aspects of their lives according to their faith. This is no different today. Attempting to restrict religious conviction to the four walls of a church is not freedom, that is tyranny.
UPDATE II: From the ACLU.
In 2012, Colorado residents David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a wedding cake. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home. Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips informed the couple that, because of his religious beliefs, it was his standard business practice to refuse to provide cakes for same-sex weddings. Phillips had turned away several other couples for the same reason.
“This has always been about more than a cake. Businesses should not be allowed to violate the law and discriminate against us because of who we are and who we love,” said Mullins. His husband, Craig, added, “While we’re disappointed that the courts continue debating the simple question of whether LGBT people deserve to be treated like everyone else, we hope that our case helps ensure that no one has to experience being turned away simply because of who they are.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado represent Mullins and Craig in the case. Under Colorado law, businesses open to the public like Masterpiece Cakeshop may not refuse service based on factors including race, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation. After Mullins and Craig won, the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.
“The law is squarely on David and Charlie’s side because when businesses are open to the public, they’re supposed to be open to everyone,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “While the right to one’s religious beliefs is fundamental, a license to discriminate is not. Same-sex couples like David and Charlie deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else, and we’re ready to take that fight all the way to the Supreme Court.”