Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court Case: Could They Win? Here’s What Some Experts Are Saying

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States — the highest court in the land — will listen to the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case. The actual caption of the case reads “Craig & Mullins v. Masterpiece Cakeshop,” and it involves a gay couple who lived in Colorado and ordered the wedding cake from the private business with the intention of celebrating their same-sex marriage. On the ground of protecting their religious rights, the bake shop refused to honor their request.

According to the New Yorker, the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case hinges on one technicality: freedom of expression versus freedom of conduct. This technicality, argues the shop, means that they are more than allowed to refuse to serve people whose beliefs differ from their own.

The attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, begs to differ and says that the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case is a textbook example of discrimination.

“The anti-discrimination laws ‘are not forcing you to say anything,’ James Esseks, an attorney for the couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case and the director of the A.C.L.U.’s L.G.B.T.-rights project, said in an interview. ‘You can say to whomever, ‘I think gay people shouldn’t be able to get married. It’s a sin.’ You just can’t turn people away because of who they are.'”

But according to the New York Times, the owner of the shop begged to differ, and even went so far as to appeal countless decisions found in favor of the couple, hence why the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case is being heard today.

The Supreme Court brief filed by Jack Phillips claims that he has no problem making other types of cakes for his gay and lesbian clients, but he was bound by his religious beliefs and therefore couldn’t serve a wedding cake to these same clients.

What’s more, Phillips argued through his attorney, his right to religious freedom guaranteed to him in the First Amendment overrides Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

The lower courts, however, disagreed and wrote that even if he didn’t agree with same-sex marriage, baking a cake for them doesn’t go against his religious beliefs.

“In 2015, a Colorado appeals court ruled against Mr. Phillips. ‘Masterpiece does not convey a message supporting same-sex marriages merely by abiding by the law and serving its customers equally,’ the court said.”

But, as Think Progress reports, if the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case finds in favor of the shop — and it is a possibility, now that Trump’s Supreme Court pick has made it clear that he’s going to give a license for people to violate civil rights laws on the basis of religion — it will be another example of going backward in time.

In the 1960s, a barbecue restaurant declared that they would have whites-only counters because serving black people “contravenes the Will of God.” The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, called the claim “patently preposterous.” Using this example, Think Progress believes that if the court doesn’t find in favor of the couple, we are going backward as a country.

“The most important question, however, is likely to be whether Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who often votes with the liberals in gay rights cases, will go along with the bakery’s efforts to effectively legalize discrimination in states with pro-LGBT laws. It is likely that he will not. Kennedy provided the fifth vote against an anti-LGBT student group that sought a special right to discriminate in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.”

What do you think of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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