(Supreme Court Building: Wikipedia)
The Supreme Court heard arguments today in the case: Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The importance of this case for the future of religious freedom in the USA cannot be overstated. From Christianity Today:
The case of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding gets its big day in court today. …
Advocates on both sides anticipate Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission will set a nationwide precedent for whether the government can require businesses, organizations, and individuals to act against their own sincerely held religious beliefs—particularly following the legalization of same-sex marriage and equal rights granted to LGBT Americans.
As CT previously reported, Phillips’s refusal to bake the same-sex wedding cake in 2012 violated Colorado’s antidiscrimination law, and a state appeals court denied his free speech and free exercise claims. …
During oral arguments, the court’s conservative justices challenged the gay couple’s counsel, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legal director David Cole, over how Colorado’s law applies to people of faith.
Chief Justice John Roberts asked if Catholic Legal Services would be forced to choose between “not providing any pro bono legal services or providing those services in connection with the same-sex marriage,” and Cole said if it were operating like a retail store, yes, the Washington Examiner reported.
Justices Samuel Alito and Gorsuch asked about accommodations for same-sex couples at religious schools, but Cole saw the example of schools’ free exercise as separate from public accommodations.
Here’s another article detailing some of the comments of the Justices:
“SCOTUS Justices Divided in Case of Christian Baker Who Refused to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cake”
Response: SCOTUS will not give us their ruling until June 2018 and the decision is expected to be close but also ground breaking when it comes to religious freedom in the context of the same-sex marriage decree.
The presence of Neil Gorsuch brings a new face to the court and he is supposed to be a champion of Religious liberty. Then Justice Anthony Kennedy, who seems to be the ‘swing’ vote more time than not, expressed some concerns on both sides of this case but hopefully the following quote gives us some idea where he may finally lean:
“Tolerance is essential in a free society. It seems to me that the state in its position here has neither been tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.”
Also brought out in the arguments today was the fact that Colorado ruled entirely different in another bakery case and actually sided “with bakers who were charged with anti-religious discrimination for refusing to bake a cake with a message condemning homosexuality.” So the state of Colorado has had a ‘bake-off’ of their own and cannot claim the highroad of impartiality since they have demonstrated a preference for affirming LGBT rights over religious freedom.
According to the Constitution and the 1st Amendment, religious freedom has a special unique place in American law and society and has from the very beginning. The decision in this case could continue to support that place or it could define a lessor priority for religious liberty in the context of a new expanded interpretation of discrimination and civil rights. *Top