Supreme Court hearing same-sex marriage cake case

Who Is Jack Phillips? Meet the Christian Baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court Case
Supreme Court hears same-sex wedding cake case: Free speech vs. civil rights
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06 December, 2017

Charlie Craig (L) and Dave Mullins. The initial case was an attempt by Texas conservatives to explore the limits of gay marriage following the Supreme Court's landmark 2015 gay marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges. According to CNN, while Phillips refused to make Craig and Mullins a wedding cake, he did offer to make them other baked goods.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan ticked off other categories of people who are involved in weddings to ask if they, too, might be able to refuse a same-sex couple.

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.

Phillips said he couldn't design a custom wedding cake for two men who requested it.

On the surface, Phillips' argument may appear to advance rights for people of faith. Although the customer claimed that the refusal to provide a cake with this message was "demeaning to his beliefs", the agency said the owner could refuse to put a message on cakes which included "derogatory language and imagery", provided it would do so for all customers.

Similarly, Banzhaf's published analysis had suggested that a baker who refused to bake a swastika-shaped cake for a white supremacist group would not be guilty of illegally discriminating on the basis of race if he had a policy against baking a cake in the shape of a swastika, whether it is ordered by a German Nazi sympathizer, a racist fraternity, a Jewish student seeking to "take back" the hated symbol (similar to a recent situation at GWU), an insensitive person who wanted it as a joke, etc.

The United States is more heterogeneous racially and religiously than at any point in our history.

A Colorado Law professor says the Supreme Court's decision could have broad implications for anti-discrimination laws across the nation. For example, a clothing store may choose to refuse to serve or hire Muslim or Jewish women who embrace modesty values because of opposition to their beliefs and practices. The Department of Justice also consistently reports a disproportionately high number of discriminatory incidents against Muslims and Jews.

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The couple documented a protest with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which led to support them, refering to a state against segregation law. In a landmark 1963 case, Sherbert v. Verner, the court considered the claim of a woman who was Seventh-Day Adventist and who was sacked because she would not work on Saturday, her Sabbath.

"When we have someone that is sketching and sculpting and hand-designing something, that is creating a temporary sculpture that serves as the centerpiece of what they believe to be a religious wedding celebration", Waggoner said. The ongoing debate is the culmination of several lawsuits over whether religious freedom protects businesses in the wedding industry in LGBT discrimination. The ruling sought by Jack Phillips and his lawyers would undermine all this precedent by severing religious liberty doctrine from the Constitution's promise of equality.

The couple is being represented in court by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In 2015, the court upheld the commission's ruling.

"And soon thereafter they both raged out and left", he said.

While the court's liberal justices said the "cake artist" likely can not refuse to serve gay couples, and conservative justices said his religious and free speech rights should be respected, Justice Anthony Kennedy once again was the man in the middle. The two phobias that tragically animate so much our public culture in this period are homophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.

Chief Justice John Roberts said Catholic Legal Services could be forced to provide free representation to a same-sex couple in a marital dispute.


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