Federal Courts and Nominations

RELEASE: Court Rules Narrowly In Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

WASHINGTON – Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following statement today in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, LTD., et al., v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission et al. In a 7-2 decision, the Court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated a baker’s First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion in this case by showing a “clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection” to baking a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Court did not rule on the larger issue of religious liberty in the context of public accommodations law. CAC filed a friend of the court brief in October 2017.

“The most significant aspect of the Court’s decision today is not the ultimate outcome, but the reasoning it used to get there.  In his opinion for the Court, Justice Kennedy rejected a sweeping understanding of the First Amendment that would create a license to discriminate.  Indeed, only two Justices—Justice Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch–accepted Masterpiece’s Free Speech claim, which would have radically altered the existing understanding of the First Amendment.

“Going forward, as Justice Kennedy explained, the ‘general rule’ remains that “religious and philosophical objections . . . do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to good and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.”



CAC’s amicus brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop LTD., et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, et al.:



Now in our tenth year, Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit the new CAC website at www.theusconstitution.org


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