The Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear a landmark religious liberty case concerning the rights of merchants who object to participating in same-sex weddings given their moral and theological convictions.
Charlie Craig and David Mullins say they were deeply hurt when a suburban Denver baker refused their request for a cake to mark their 2012 wedding.
In state appeals court, the judges sided with the Colorado Rights Commission, agreeing that the business violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (or CADA) and it ordered the business to create same-sex marriage wedding cakes if it also created other wedding cakes.
Despite marriage equality being the law thanks to the court’s decision issued two years ago this week, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Civil rights advocates argue this includes non-discrimination by businesses such as Masterpiece Cakeshop.
“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”.
Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which had petitioned the US high court along with attorneys for the couples, said similar issues are being litigated in other states but Arkansas was the only court to rule this way.
The Supreme Court adjourned for the summer Monday, but not before it handed a victory to President Donald Trump.
Both Mullins and Craig, the couple who were denied the service by Phillips, also spoke following Monday’s decision. They include California and six other states in the West, Illinois and three other states in the Upper Midwest, and 10 states on the East Coast from Maryland to Maine.
Last June, the appeals court ruled that the Second Amendment does not protect the right to carry concealed firearms in public.
In 2014, the Supreme Court declined to consider whether a New Mexico photography company had free speech grounds to refuse to photograph the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple, leaving in place a ruling against the company. His lawyers described him as a “cake artist” who will “not create cakes celebrating any marriage that is contrary to his understanding of biblical teaching”.
The baker chose to change his services and removed wedding cakes from his menu entirely.
The justices will hear arguments in the case in October.