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ON THE DOCKET: The Supreme Court Ruling on Masterpiece Cakeshop

June 4, 2018

Today’s 7-2 Supreme Court ruling on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission has a lot to unpack. The central question, of whether the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause could be wielded as a weapon against non-discrimination law, seems to have received a stay of execution. And unlike Jack Phillips’ confectionary creations, these layers need to be consumed and commented on. Read on for our roundup of must-reads… we’ll be updating this post throughout the day to serve you the latest.

 

The Supreme Court Ruling Itself

 

SCOTUS Finds Colorado Civil Rights Commission Hostile to Religion in Masterpiece Cakeshop

By CUNY Law Professor Ruthann Robson, Constitutional Law Prof Blog

“Certainly, the Court’s opinion rests on narrow grounds, perhaps unique to this case. But it nevertheless represents the Court chipping away at equality on the basis of sexual orientation.”

 

A Statement from the ACLU, representing the couple that brought the original complaint

The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case: What You Need to Know

By Ria Tabacco Mar, ACLU

“In the 1960s, Piggie Park barbecue restaurant argued that its owner’s religious beliefs meant it could refuse to serve Black customers. In the 1970s and 1980s, schools claimed that they should be allowed to pay women less than men based on the belief that men should be the head of the household. Time and again, courts have recognized that religious views, no matter how deeply felt, don’t entitle any of us to discriminate. The same is true today.”

 

The ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop’ Decision Is Not As Harmless as You Think

By Sarah Posner, The Nation

“Today, the Court did not foreclose LGBTQ people from suing under anti-discrimination laws. But it did open the door for ADF to use one of its favored tropes—that the government is hostile to religion—to continue to chip away at those protections. And there is really no telling how that will turn out.”

 

Gay Americans Have Little to Fear From the Supreme Court’s Compromise in Masterpiece Cakeshop

By Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

The ruling came down to free exercise law.

“…SCOTUS didn’t directly answer that question on Monday. Rather, it chose to handle this case solely on free exercise grounds. The Supreme Court has held that the government violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause when it targets a particular faith for disfavored treatment. In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court found here that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had done precisely that in its dealings with Jack Phillips.”

And additional comment on non-discrimination law and the LGBTQIA community:

“…Kennedy’s opinion is also littered with dicta that shows states how they can enforce LGBTQ non-discrimination law without crashing into constitutional problems. He approvingly describes states’ authority ‘to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services.’ He clarifies that ‘gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth.’ And he reaffirms the basic principle that religious objections ‘do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.'”

 

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