The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments for and against the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case today. This case has been hailed as one of the most important religious freedom cases in contemporary legal history. Indeed, the facts of the case make it legally interesting, but the implications of the case make it legally and morally significant.
Commencing deliberations in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, the Supreme Court is poised to render a momentous decision on the future direction of First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.
The essential facts of the case are as follows: In July 2012, a gay couple from Colorado, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, planned to marry in Massachusetts and return home to celebrate their wedding. Colorado did not recognize same-sex weddings at that time and the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges that found marriage to be a fundamental right that extends to same-sex marriages. Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado to purchase a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. “The owner, Jack Phillips, told them that he would happily provide baked goods for them for other occasions, but he would not create a cake for this event, citing his general policy, based on his religious convictions against participating in same-sex marriages.” Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins did obtain a cake from another bakery, but filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination by Masterpiece Cakeshop on the basis of sexual orientation. The Commission supported the discrimination complaint and the case has subsequently wound itself through the appeals process until reaching the Supreme Court this fall.