Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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Friday, September 08, 2017

Description:  Two men filed a complaint with the state of Colorado after they asked cake artist Jack Phillips to design a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted, but that he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith.


US, 20 states, 479 creative professionals join others to support artistic, religious freedom at Supreme Court

86 members of Congress also among at least 45 briefs asking justices to rule in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop
Friday, September 08, 2017

 
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court has received at least 45 friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the freedom of a Colorado cake artist to decline to create custom artistic expression that celebrates events in conflict with his faith. The briefs filed in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission include support from the U.S. Department of Justice, 479 creative professionals, 20 states, 86 members of Congress, and a variety of legal experts, civil rights advocates, and religious groups.

Last month, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Jack Phillips and his family business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, filed their opening brief in the case, which the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear after the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that a state law could force him to create custom artistic expression contrary to his faith.

“As the numerous briefs filed in this case affirm, artists and other expressive professionals should be able to peacefully live and work according to their beliefs without fear of punishment by the government,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who will argue before the high court on behalf of Phillips and his shop. “We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the arguments in these briefs and declare that the government cannot force Jack to surrender his freedom in order to run his family business. Regardless of one’s view on marriage, all Americans should support Jack: To have First Amendment freedoms for ourselves, we must respect those same freedoms for people with whom we disagree on important issues.” (#JusticeForJack)

The Colorado Supreme Court declined to take the case after the state’s Court of Appeals affirmed a Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision from May 2014. That decision ordered Phillips and his employees to design custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages if the shop designs wedding cakes for opposite-sex marriages. It also required Phillips to re-educate his staff, most of whom are his family members—essentially telling them that he was wrong to operate his business according to his faith. He must also report to the government for two years, describing all cakes that he declines to create and the reasons why. As a result of the ruling, Phillips has lost an estimated 40 percent of his business.

The United States, in a brief that the U.S. Department of Justice filed, recognized that “a custom wedding cake is a form of expression…. It is an artistic creation that is both subjectively intended and objectively perceived as a celebratory symbol of a marriage.”

The states, in their brief, argue that governments “may not use their police power to truncate the First Amendment by compelling a person to create a piece of artwork—particularly one that violates the artist’s conscience.” They add that “this case happens to arise in the context of expression regarding same-sex marriage. But the First Amendment principles that control here transcend, and will long outlast, the Nation’s current dialogue about same-sex marriage.”

The nearly 500 creative professionals similarly assert, “Artistic speech, whether expressed through painting a picture, taking a photograph, or designing a cake, is constitutionally protected and should be treated as such. The expression should neither be silenced nor coerced. Though the concern is currently most pressing in the same-sex wedding context, it is not so limited. Creative professionals of all stripes stand to suffer from undue compulsion, depending on how this Court rules here.”

In addition to the briefs filed in support of Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop, several briefs filed in support of neither party make important arguments that advance Phillips’s position, including one in which respected cake artists explain the intricate artistry involved in designing custom cakes.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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Friend-of-the-court briefs filed with U.S. Supreme Court


Additional resources: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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Friday, September 08, 2017

Previous news releases:

  • 2017-09-06: Cake, floral artists to join members of Congress at news conference Thursday
  • 2017-08-31: Cake artist to Supreme Court: Affirm artistic freedom, free speech
  • 2017-06-26: US Supreme Court agrees to weigh in on Colorado cake artist’s freedom
  • 2016-07-22: Colorado cake artist asks US Supreme Court to protect his freedom of expression
  • 2016-04-25: Colo. cake artist weighing all options after state high court declines to take case
  • 2015-10-23: Cake artist asks Colo. Supreme Court to affirm his freedom of expression
  • 2015-08-13: Colo. court lets government punishment of cake artist stand, rejects his First Amendment freedoms
  • 2015-04-06: Colo. Civil Rights Commission issues inconsistent cake artist decisions
  • 2015-04-01: Colo. cake artist exemplifies need for state laws protecting religious freedom
  • 2015-01-23: ADF: Don’t force cake artist who supports same-sex marriage to speak against her beliefs
  • 2015-01-12: Revealed: Colo. commissioner compared cake artist to Nazi
  • 2014-07-17: Colo. cake artist appeals govt ‘re-education’ order
  • 2014-05-30: Colo. cake artist considering appeal of Civil Rights Commission decision
  • 2014-05-30: Artistic expression at stake in Colo. cake artist case
  • 2014-01-06: Cake artists are citizens, not government servants
  • 2013-12-06: Colo. court denies baker’s freedom in same-sex ceremony suit
  • 2013-12-03: ADF: Colo. cake artist shouldn’t be forced to support same-sex ceremonies

Commentary:
  • James Gottry: Christian artists should have the same free speech game as Colin Kaepernick (The Federalist, 2017-08-30)
  • Jonathan Scruggs: Masterpiece Cakeshop: Can the state force us to agree with its views? (National Review, 2017-08-28)
  • Andreas Thonhauser: A luta de um confeiteiro pela liberdade interessa a todos (Gazeta do Povo, 2017-08-22)
  • Jonathan Scruggs: Google memos and pro-Trump cakes: When free speech values collide (The Hill, 2017-08-09)
  • Samuel Green: Freedom for Christian cake artist is freedom for all, even same-sex marriage backers (The Hill, 2017-07-18)
  • Jim Campbell: The Supreme Court puts a baker’s business—and artistic freedom—on the line (Washington Post, 2017-06-28)
  • James Gottry: U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether government can be the Cake Boss (Denver Post, 2017-06-26)
  • Jim Campbell: Arguments separating fashion designers from other artists aren’t worthy of the runway (National Review, 2017-01-23)
  • Samuel Green: Religious freedom under attack in Colorado (Washington Examiner, 2016-10-12)
  • Jack Phillips: Why I’m asking the U.S. Supreme Court to protect artistic freedom (Denver Post, 2016-07-22)
  • Jeremy Tedesco: Everyone should be able to have their First Amendment cake & eat it too (Religion News Service, 2015-01-29)

Links concerning the art of cake design:


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