December 7, 2017

12-7-2017 The Supreme Court hears arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case (Vox)

The Supreme Court heard arguments on one of its most high-profile cases this term, about a Colorado baker named Jack Phillips who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding couple, citing his religious beliefs. [SCOTUSblog / Amy Howe

  • A final ruling is months away, but the big takeaway from today is that the Court is divided on the central question in this case: whether Phillips’s refusal to bake the cake in question is part of his First Amendment right to free speech and free expression. [Vox / German Lopez
  • Lower courts in Colorado have already said no on this question, ruling that Phillips’s stance violates a state anti-discrimination law. And the case is about far more than wedding cakes; there’s a larger debate over LGBTQ rights, as there have been numerous other circumstances of gay couples being denied services while planning a wedding. [NYT / Kirk Johnson
  • There are also significant implications for “religious liberty” in the country, as attorneys for Phillips are basically arguing that religious observance shouldn’t be limited to a place of worship but should also extend into a place of business. [Vox / Tara Isabella Burton
  • Justice Anthony Kennedy is widely viewed as the swing vote in this case, as the liberal and conservative wings are likely to split on the issue. [Vox / Ella Nilsen
  • So how will Kennedy vote? It was really tough to tell from today’s arguments, because Kennedy aggressively questioned lawyers from both sides, giving no indication what his final position might be. We should know more by this summer. [Washington Post / Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow]


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