December 6, 2017

Positivity: Baker argues for cake and conscience at Supreme Court

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:38 pm

From Washington:

Dec 5, 2017 / 03:35 pm

A Colorado baker’s right to express himself through artwork – edible artwork– lies at the center of today’s Supreme Court arguments, say lawyers for Masterpiece Cakeshop owner, Jack Phillips.

“The right of all creative professionals to speak and to live consistent with their beliefs is at stake,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who represented Phillips before the Supreme Court, told CNA.

The Court heard arguments today in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case which has garnered attention from LGBT-rights advocates and religious liberty proponents.

Waggoner said that the justices asked difficult questions of both sides, and explained that she and US Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued before the high court that forcing Phillips to “sketch, sculpt and to handpaint a message” about marriage that is contrary to his faith violates the Constitution’s protections for free speech.

“Whether you support same-sex marriage or you oppose it, you should be able to have the right to speak freely; to hold beliefs and to speak freely in the public square,” she said.

The case comes after five years of litigation involving Phillips and his Lakewood Colo. bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, which he opened in 1993. In 2012, Phillips found himself faced with a lawsuit filed by Charlie Craig of Colorado, after he declined to make a wedding cake for the same-sex wedding of Craig and David Mullins. Phillips offered to create another cake for the couple. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a state agency that represent Craig and Mullins during litigation, claimed that by declining to make the cake, the baker had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.

The lawsuit was decided in favor of the plaintiffs in 2013, and a Colorado judge ordered Phillips to receive anti-discrimination training and to serve same-sex weddings or stop serving weddings altogether.

Phillips lost appeals at the state level, and the Colorado Supreme Court declined to take the case. In June, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

The couple was able to obtain a rainbow-themed cake from a bakery near Phillips’ cake shop.

Phillips declines to bake other kinds of cakes that promote ideas at odds with his beliefs, such as cakes that portray anti-American, atheist, or racist messages or disparage members of the LGBT community. Phillips also declines to create custom cakes for other events he is uncomfortable supporting, such as Halloween and bachelor parties. “Though I serve everyone who comes into my shop, like many other creative professionals, I don’t create custom designs for events or messages that conflict with my conscience,” Phillips explained in a Dec. 5 press conference outside of the Supreme Court. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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