Religious FreedomPrint

The Supreme Court Opinion Everyone Is Talking About

By Stephanie Curry, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance®

The long awaited Supreme Court opinion in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case was handed down yesterday: 7-2 in favor of Jack Phillips and his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop. Family Policy Alliance congratulates Jack Phillips and his legal team with our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom on their long-awaited victory!

Jack is the Colorado cake artist who declined to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony in 2012. Jack, a devout Christian, treats his employees with faithful intentionality. He closes on Sundays, pays his employees a livable wage, and even loans them money when needed. He puts the same thoughtful intentionality into his business, meeting personally with couples and often attending the weddings and receptions for which he makes custom cakes. In line with his faith, he declines to design baked goods with Halloween themes, nudity, alcohol or for same-sex weddings.

As you’ve heard, Craig and David Mullins sued Jack for declining to make them a same-sex wedding cake. The Mullins sued under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Law, which allows “sexual orientation” to be a protected class, like race or religion. Not only does this law invent a new protected class with inadequate protections for religious freedom, but the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has also been using its authority under the law to target and discriminate against people of faith. The very decision-makers who are supposed to identify and prevent discrimination, are themselves engaged in blatant and hostile discrimination against Jack Phillips and his religious beliefs.

In their opinion yesterday, the Supreme Court harshly admonished the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the Colorado Court of Appeals for their unconstitutional and discriminatory treatment of Jack’s religious beliefs. In the end, a case that, according to the media and groups like the ACLU, was about discrimination against the LGBTQ community was actually about discrimination against people of faith.

The Court was crystal clear that discrimination against religious beliefs would not be tolerated when performed by the government, especially when the government has a constitutional duty to apply its laws neutrally towards everyone.

There are still many lessons to be gleaned from the Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion, but the most important is that Jack should not have had to go to Court to defend his constitutional right to religious freedom in the first place. The Colorado Legislature should have reined in the Commission’s power and enacted strong laws to protect religious freedom for all its citizens, including Jack.

This means it is critical for the family of believers to work together to elect legislators who will stand strong for religious freedom in every state. It is the responsibility of our elected leaders to pass good laws clarifying that people of faith are welcome in every state, including business owners like Jack. As Justice Gorsuch eloquently stated in his concurrence, “The Constitution protects not just popular religious exercises from the condemnation of civil authorities. It protects them all.”