The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in June to hear the case of Jack Phillips, Christian owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. Phillips declined to bake a “wedding” cake for two homosexuals.
He also refuses to make cakes celebrating Halloween, but so far no trick-or-treaters have sued him for discrimination.
The so-called Colorado Human Rights Commission (aka the Civil Rights Commission) ruled that he’d violated the law by refusing to provide a service that offends him as a Christian and violates the tenets of his faith. The Colorado Court of Appeals backed up this ruling, and the state’s highest court refused to hear the case.
But the country’s highest court has agreed to hear it.
Phillips’s legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, reported that the U.S. Supreme Court has received 45 amicus briefs in the case, including one from the U.S. Department of Justice. An excerpt:
The United States, in a brief that the U.S. Department of Justice filed, recognized that “a custom wedding cake is a form of expression…. It is an artistic creation that is both subjectively intended and objectively perceived as a celebratory symbol of a marriage.”
The states, in their brief, argue that governments “may not use their police power to truncate the First Amendment by compelling a person to create a piece of artwork—particularly one that violates the artist’s conscience.” They add that “this case happens to arise in the context of expression regarding same-sex marriage. But the First Amendment principles that control here transcend, and will long outlast, the Nation’s current dialogue about same-sex marriage.”
Deciding whether the government can compel a business to provide services for a “wedding” or fine him out of business should be an easy decision for the court — if the majority respects the individual’s First Amendment rights.