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Supreme Court cuts into Masterpiece Cakeshop case

Masterpiece Cake case goes before the Supreme Court.
Photo credit:
scotusblog.com

The United States Supreme Court is weighing heavily on both sides of the Masterpiece Cake case currently being heard.

The case has some in the community worried because it is not about religious freedoms but freedom of speech. The decorator, Jack Phillips, says that he is a “cake artist” and creating a cake for a same-sex couple would infringe on his freedom of speech.

And since this is a constitutional issue a decision in the baker’s favor would mean other artists could discriminate, not only LGBT people but anyone.

 LGBTQ Nation reports that Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is once again be the swing vote; without his vote, marriage equality may have never happened.

According to CNN court reporter Ariane de Vogue, Kennedy worried about future attacks on religion: 

"During lively arguments that lasted over the 60 minutes allotted, the liberal justices, joined at one point by crucial swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, questioned where the line could be drawn should it side with Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips.

As a lawyer for Phillips made his free speech argument on behalf of the baker's "artistic expression," Justice Elena Kagan and other liberals pounced, asking where they were supposed to draw a coherent line designating which business owners could qualify to claim an exemption from anti-discrimination laws. A jeweler? A makeup artist? A hair stylist?

When Solicitor General Noel Francisco stood to argue in support of Phillips, Kennedy asked him if he prevailed could a baker put a sign in a window saying "we don't bake cakes" for same-sex weddings.

    But Kennedy seemed torn. At another point he said he worried about a "hostility" toward religion. He asked whether the state of Colorado had been "tolerant" of Phillips' religious beliefs."

    David Mullins and Charlie Craig are the defendants in this case, saying that Phillips discriminated against them because they were gay when he refused to make them a wedding cake. 

    "The Bible says, 'In the beginning there was male and female,'" Phillips said after recounting that he indeed refused the couple a cake back in 2012. He did offer to make them something else but they "stormed out."

    The ACLU is representing the couple and that organization's David D. Cole wrote in court briefs, "The question, rather, is whether the Constitution grants businesses open to the public the right to violate laws against discrimination in the commercial marketplace if the business happens to sell an artistic product." He thinks not.

    The National Review points out another of Kennedy's comments about this case and maybe the issue is not so much about who the customers are, but the wedding itself. 

    JUSTICE KENNEDY:  Well, but this whole concept of identity is a slightly — suppose he says: Look, I have nothing against — against gay people. He says but I just don’t think they should have a marriage because that’s contrary to my beliefs. It’s not -­

    MR. COLE: Yeah.

    JUSTICE KENNEDY: It’s not their identity; it’s what they’re doing.

    MR. COLE: Yeah.

    JUSTICE KENNEDY: I think it’s — your identity thing is just too facile. 

    Equality California said in a statement that the case is more than an argument about a ceremonial dessert. 

    “This case has never been simply about cake – it is about discrimination in this country. If we allow businesses to pick and choose who they serve based on who an individual loves or how they identify, then we as a country relegate LGBTQ people to second-class citizenship. The use of so-called religious exemptions is part of the strategy anti-LGBTQ forces use to gut hard-fought LGBTQ civil rights protections where they exist. The Supreme Court’s decision will have far-reaching consequences for more than the LGBTQ community, and we urge the court to continue to stand for freedom and justice for all.”

    A decision in this case is expected by summer.