All eyes are focused on Justice Anthony Kennedy December 5, as the Supreme Court hears the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, involving the 2012 case of a gay couple being refused service by a deeply religious cake maker.
Baker Jack Phillips runs his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colorado. In 2012, he was approached by Charlie Craig and David Mullins to have them make a cake for their wedding reception. As Phillips recalls: “Our conversation was just about 20 seconds long. ‘Sorry guys, I don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.” The couple then submitted discrimination charges with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission against Phillips. What followed was a five year long legal battle that eventually led them to the Supreme Court.
The argument for the gay couple rests on the Colorado anti-discrimination laws that do not allow discrimination based on disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry.
Lawyers for Phillips content that as creating cakes involves creativity, it is an extension of one’s First Amendment rights; therefore, forcing him to make a cake for a couple he has fundamental disagreements with is a violation of his Constitutional rights. Justice Elana Kagan asks where this distinction ends, however. She asks if a makeup artist has the same right to refuse service because this is an artistic expression as well.
Justice Anthony Kennedy is predicted to be the deciding vote because the religiously divided Supreme Court is split 4-4 without his vote. The court will vote after hearing the approximately 85 minute proceedings.