It should be a cakewalk for civil rights activists, but the Supreme Court, being the Supreme Court, is ensuring that the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is anything but as it begins to hear arguments on one of the most important government civil rights decisions up for debate this year.
"Generally, the bread kitchen looks for a protected appropriate to hang a sign in its shop window announcing, 'Wedding Cakes for Heterosexuals Only, '" the ACLU's David D. Cole wrote in court briefs.
Justice Samuel Alito questioned how Phillips could be accused of discrimination when gay marriage wasn't yet legal in Colorado.
Supporters of both sides gathered outside the court and inside the crowded chamber as lawyers presented their arguments to the nine Supreme Court justices during a 90-minute hearing. But the Supreme Court, bolstered in April by the addition of stalwart conservative and fellow Coloradan Neil Gorsuch, could be a different story.
On the other hand, Kennedy criticized the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that found Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law.
The two men then filed a lawsuit against him. But if Phillips prevails before the Supreme Court, those who would deny jobs or services to people due to their religious objections will feel even more empowered to do so. But there's more to the MasterpieceCakeshopcase now before the Supreme Court than just cake.
"And soon thereafter they both raged out and left", he said. A ruling in favor of the baker could mean doctors, lawyers, real estate companies, and countless other businesses throughout the country would be allowed to refuse service to LGBTQ citizens. While she argued that the free exercise clause forbids the commission from targeting Phillips "and like-minded believers for punishment", she reserved the bulk of her brief for the free speech clause, perhaps targeting Kennedy, who has at times shown an expansive view of free speech. It follows a legal analysis similar to that originally proposed by Banzhaf, who suggested that anti-discrimination statutes prevent discrimination based upon the characteristics of a potential customer (e.g., being gay), but not upon a refusal to send a message related to that characteristic (e.g., preparing a same-sex wedding cake). "It's about the right of gay people to receive equal service".
Phillips and the couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, were in the courtroom for arguments in the closely watched case that could affect other situations where there's a clash between social conservatives' claim of religious freedom and the LGBT community's fight to preserve hard-won rights. "I would not like to utilize my aesthetic gifts to make something that conflicted with my Christian confidence", he said in a meeting, noticing that he has additionally declined to make cakes to observe Halloween. She said the Supreme Court's compelled speech doctrine "forbids the commission from demanding that artists design custom expression that conveys ideas they deem objectionable".
The couple is being spoken to in court by the American Civil Liberties Union. He is defended in the court by Alliance Defending Freedom, which argues that Jack's faith motivates his business and following Colorado's anti-discrimination law would "force him to strip every ounce of his faith out" of his bakery. "A custom wedding cake is not an ordinary baked good; its function is more communicative and artistic than utilitarian", Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued.
The Democratic National Committee also weighed in on the case, vowing to eventually change the law to recognize same-sex spouses' marriages.
"Artists shouldn't be forced to express what the government dictates".