Center for Arizona Policy Participates in Win at U.S. Supreme Court

This morning, in a 7-2 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

I applaud this ruling for acknowledging that those with deeply-held beliefs about marriage do have a First Amendment right to have those beliefs protected from punishment by the government.

It’s a big win for all who stand for religious freedom. We extend deep gratitude to our colleagues at Alliance Defending Freedom who represented Jack.

Read the CAP brief submitted to the Court in support of Jack Phillips here.

Jack serves all customers, he simply chooses not to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held religious beliefs.

The Court today ruled the government wrongly punished Jack in violation of his First Amendment freedom to freely exercise his religious beliefs.

Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, states in key sections of the opinion:

  • First Amendment guarantees that our laws “be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion” and that “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
  • Jack’s declining to use his artistic talents to create a wedding cake for two men were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions.
  • Government has “no role in deciding or even suggesting whether the religious ground for Phillips’ conscience-based objection is legitimate or illegitimate.”
  • The Colorado Civil Rights Commission consideration was “inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality.”
  • The Commission showed hostility toward Jack by describing his faith as “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use” and by treating other bakers who declined to bake cakes with messages opposing same-sex unions differently.
  • The Commission’s hostility “was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

However, the Court limited its holding to the specific facts of Jack’s case:

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

In other words, what happens next to cases like Brush and Nib depends on other court outcomes. In Brush and Nib, two artists have challenged the Phoenix nondiscrimination law as violating their right to follow their beliefs by only using their artistic expression to create wedding invitations in accordance with their religious beliefs. That case awaits a ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals.

To support CAP’s efforts to participate in key religious freedom cases like Masterpiece and Brush and Nib, please give a gift today.

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