Colorado's Supreme Court Cake Case Matter To All USA
06 December, 2017, 01:08 | Author: Brenda Erickson
The case, which the court will decide by June, is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 16-111.
All eyes were on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in today's U.S. Supreme Court clash between Colorado's anti-discrimination laws and free speech.
Protesters for both sides in the dispute over a wedding cake for a same-sex couple are rallying outside the Supreme Court.
The case involves a Colorado cake baker that refused on religious grounds to bake a cake for a wedding for a same-sex couple.
SCOTUS rejected an appeal of an earlier Texas Supreme Court decision, which undermined marriage equality by denying same-sex couples the rights and privileges they supposedly were entitled to following the landmark 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision.
Lower courts ruled Mr. Phillips violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law by refusing to create the wedding cake for Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012. Phillips' lawyer claims that the baker is an artist and should not be forced to express what the government dictates. The outcome of the case seemed to rest with the 81-year-old justice, who often finds himself with the decisive vote in cases that otherwise divide the court's conservatives and liberals.
In court papers, Kristen K. Waggoner, a legal counselor from the traditionalist Alliance Defending Freedom who is speaking to Phillips, contended that the First Amendment promises him the privilege to decay to make wedding cakes that praise relational unions that are in struggle with his religious convictions.
"The primary goal of a food of any kind is to be eaten", said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the four liberal court members. "Through legislation or through the courts, this disgraceful decision by the Texas Supreme Court must be overturned". Phillips said he knew right away that he couldn't create the product they were looking for without violating his faith.
She cited the First Amendment in defense of Phillips.
Speaking outside of court after the justices heard the case, baker Jack Phillips said the five-year court fight has "been very hard on me and my family".
Waggoner contended that a man seeing one of Phillips' custom wedding cakes - his "aesthetic articulation" - would "comprehend that it celebrates and communicates bolster for the couple's marriage".
"I don't think you could force the African-American sculptor to sculpt a cross for the Klan service", Francisco said in a reference to the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.
"Tolerance is meaningful in society", Kennedy said.
Cole said that whether a cake is a creative articulation isn't at issue.
The court noted that agency's analysis (which it reversed) - which asks whether the message was discriminatory - would lead to "absurd" results: for example, "a man who requests t-shirts stating, 'I support equal treatment for women, ' could complain of gender discrimination if HOO refused to print the t-shirts because it disagreed with that message".
Mullins and Craig told AFP in an interview this week that they were emotionally devastated after Phillips turned them down in a brief meeting at the bakery.
"This case is about more than us, and it's not about cakes", Mullins said in an interview. "We were publicly humiliated for who we were". Fortunately, Supreme Court precedent since then dictates that religious freedom does not exempt business from civil rights laws.
Justice Elena Kagan made such a reference while questioning Phillips' attorneys. 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.
Some 20 states, dozens of members of Congress and Christian lobbyist groups have thrown their weight behind the baker.
Supporters of Colorado baker Jack Phillips were chanting, "We got Jack's back".
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