SCOTUS Hears Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

The US Supreme Court Just Rejected a Texas Case About Gay Marriage Rights

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"With all eyes on tomorrow's oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop religious exemptions case, the Supreme Court has just let an alarming ruling by the Texas Supreme Court stand which plainly undercuts the rights of married same-sex couples", Ellis said.

The commission ruled that Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law when he refused to make a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins.

Pivotal Justice Anthony Kennedy sent mixed messages during a spirited U.S. Supreme Court argument Tuesday over a Colorado baker who refuses to make cakes for same-sex weddings.

While the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the case Tuesday, it could be months before they weigh in with a verdict.

But lawyers for Mr Phillips say that baking an elaborate, sculptural wedding cake amounts to artistic expression or "speech", covered by the First Amendment.

It would be an "affront to the gay community" if bakers could effectively boycott same-sex marriages or put up signs saying they don't make gay-wedding cakes, Kennedy said. But he also accused Colorado officials of exhibiting a "hostility to religion".

David Cole, an attorney for Mullins, a 33-year-old poet and musician, and Craig, a 37-year-old interior designer, said he respected the sincerity of Phillips' convictions.

People gather outside the US Supreme Court before Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is heard on December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Phillips, 61, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, is fighting for the rights of "creative artists" to choose what they will sell.

"If Craig and Mullins had gone to a state office and said, 'We want a marriage license, ' they would not have been accommodated", Alito said.

All three sat in the third row of the court's public section for the roughly 85-minute oral argument inside the packed courtroom.

"The primary objective of a food of any kind is to be eaten", said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the four liberal court members.

A hair stylist? A makeup artist?

A few onlookers and place holders started holding up in line last Friday to secure one of the uncommon seats open to the general population in the lofty court. She said the Supreme Court's constrained discourse regulation "prohibits the commission from requesting that craftsmen outline custom articulation that passes on thoughts they consider shocking".

Chief Justice John Roberts said Catholic Legal Services could be forced to provide free representation to a same-sex couple in a marital dispute. Justices said Phillips could voice his opposition to gay marriage on a sign or on the store's website, but "picking and choosing customers based on their sexual orientation" was against Colorado law. But the Supreme Court, bolstered in April by the addition of stalwart conservative and fellow Coloradan Neil Gorsuch, could be a different story.

Justice Elena Kagan made such a reference while questioning Phillips' attorneys.

Supporters of Colorado baker Jack Phillips were chanting, "We got Jack's back".

"It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, honest conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned", Kennedy wrote in 2015. A state trial court initially sided with them, but after the 2015 Obergefell decision, an appeals court reversed that ruling.

Over the past three months, the high court has been flooded with almost 100 "friend of the court" briefs, equally divided between the two sides.

Lawyers for Pidgeon and Hicks told the state Supreme Court that the Obergefell ruling should be interpreted narrowly and did not require states to give taxpayer subsidies to same-sex couples any more than the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion required states to subsidize abortions.

A decision is expected in the summer.

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