SCOTUS BLOG – Supreme Court agreed to review the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (case 16-111) though it has not yet been set for argument in their October Term 2017.
At issue: Whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel the petitioner to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment. The case involves a custom-cake business owned by Jack Phillips who treats his cakes as “art” and contends that requiring him to make wedding cakes for same-sex marriage celebrations would violate his religious beliefs.
Why is this case so important? FRC wrote the following that is perhaps one of the best explanations of its ramifications and ultimate significance for both religious and artistic freedoms.
DoJ Fights Whisk Management In Baker Case
Family Research Council
September 8, 2017
It may be one of the most important religious liberty cases in a century — and President Trump isn’t about to be on the wrong side of it. In the latest sign that this isn’t Barack Obama’s DOJ, the administration is going to bat for Jack Phillips, the Christian baker at the center of a five-year firestorm over vendors’ forced participation in same-sex marriage. In a brief to the Supreme Court, the last stop for his case, the Justice Department argues that Jack was well within his rights to turn down a wedding cake order for a ceremony that contradicts his faith.
“The government may not compel an unwilling speaker to join a group or event at odds with his religious or moral beliefs,” Attorney General Jeff Session’s team argued. “Otherwise, a graphic designer whose clients include ‘a Jewish affinity group’ could also be forced to make fliers ‘for a neo-Nazi group.'”
The Left is desperately trying to turn this into a debate about Christians refusing service to same-sex couples. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Like Barronelle Stuzman and dozens of other wedding vendors, Jack offered to sell the men anything in his store.
That didn’t satisfy them — nor did the long list of area bakeries who would have gladly accepted the job. Instead, they wanted to force Jack to use his creative talents to celebrate a message that violates his beliefs. “Just as a painter does more than simply apply paint to a canvas, a baker of a custom wedding cake does more than simply mix together eggs, flour, and sugar,” DOJ officials went on. “Both apply their artistic talents and viewpoints to the endeavor.” Public accommodations laws are important, acknowledged a Justice Department official, but “they — like other laws — must yield to the individual freedoms that the First Amendment guarantees.”
A whopping 86 Members of Congress agree. In their own appeal to the Court, they warn about the implications for every American. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of the signers, knows exactly how dangerous this precedent would be. So do voters. According to Rasmussen, only 29 percent of the country thinks Jack should be prosecuted. “What matters,” Lee points out, “is how our laws can be brought to bear against those who believe. The government cannot force you to speak where you would choose to remain silent. These are foundational pillars of Constitution.” Already, bakers, florists, website designers, and dressmakers have been sued, fined, and harassed for trying to live as openly about their faith as the Left has about its sexuality.
As we’ve said from the beginning, tolerance is for everyone — or else it isn’t tolerance at all. Taking a wrecking ball to a young couple’s business or threatening a grandmother’s home isn’t a down payment on “equality;” it’s a death warrant for freedom. As FRC reminds the Court in our own amicus brief, “The First Amendment has never been confined within the walls of a church, as if it were a wild animal needing to be caged. On the contrary, the Constitution broadly guarantees liberty of religion and conscience to citizens who participate in public life according to their moral, ethical, and religious convictions.” There is discrimination in this case — but not against people who identify as LGBT. It’s against Jack Phillips and the millions of others who share his views about marriage.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what Samuel Alito warned when the Supreme Court redefined marriage for everyone in Obergefell.
“I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”
Now, two years later, clashes like this one are exploding in Christian businesses all across the country. It’s time for the Supreme Court to step in and stop this crusade against faith it started. President Trump is doing his job on religious liberty. It’s the justices’ turn to do theirs.
Freedom to practice beliefs without fear of reprisal from a government agency was one of the most important aspects of the Bill of Rights and Constitution. It has been covertly under attack for the last three decades but more overtly over the last eight years.
The constitution provides protection as a general rule for all who are citizens of our country but there has to be a line established governing religious attitudes or practices abhorrent to a majority, counter to current laws, national security, sovereignty, or common sense morality. When someone abuses those laws then we need to protect the innocent whether religion is involved or not. The laws are there to keep order, to protect, and to defend not stifle freedom.
In this case, Mr. Phillip had a shop full of prepared offerings for clients but reserved a “custom art design” for specific customers. It was stated that he had already turned away other clients for issues that he felt were against his belief system including highly sexual, suggestive, or disgusting themes. In this particular case he offered the complainant any item available for sale but refused on grounds of his religious beliefs to prepare a specific cake for the would-be client.
The freedom of an artist to prepare a rendering should not be constrained by law whether the artist works in glass, with trash, acrylics, or cakes.
However, those that present specific forms of art outside the bounds of good taste or social acceptability should also be aware that their renderings are better viewed or appreciated by a more select audience in a specific location not normally for public viewing.
Every artist should have the right to choose subject matter and be able to refuse or discard any ideas that are based on whatever criteria or belief the artist adheres to. The trend up until January 2017 has been to stifle and attack all Christian religions. After all, left-wing organizers don’t want anyone out in the masses to be a “free” thinking individual. They obviously prefer a pre-programmed robot.
As we have seen countless times already, every single time we weakly reply or allow an inch, those on the left who are pro-Marxists (or whatever political or anti-religious jargon currently in vogue) have pushed harder and forced more actions which they have used to erode our rights, our laws, and undermine our sovereign authority.
This has happened gradually but has become most apparent as to their purpose in the last twelve months. Had the same type of government managed to again continue in the oval office in this last presidential election, I have no doubt that we would have quickly fallen into their trap and seen our country become a socialist/communist state just like Venezuela and other countries over the last decade.
In this case, the question was and is — Will SCOTUS decide to listen to arguments based on the information above or will they again find a way to push it aside to ignore the far-reaching effects of their own actions given their Obergefell vs Hodges which was a blatantly unconstitutional decision to make a law?