In June, the US Supreme Court announced it would hear the case of bakery Masterpiece Cakeshop and owner Jack Phillips.
Five years prior in July 2012, Phillips refused to make a cake for Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig’s wedding. He said his faith did not allow him to make same-sex wedding cakes, but he would make other baked goods for them.
The Supreme Court resumes in October and they will hear this case sometime during their new session.
In preparation, Phillips’ legal team Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) submitted its first defense brief.
The brief relies on 4 key arguments, primarily citing the First Amendment for their defense of Phillips’ discrimination.
‘Jack’s decision to decline the custom cake order had nothing to do with the same-sex couple,’ ADF writes, alluding to the fact that Phillips only refused to make a wedding cake. ‘This case is really about whether Jack has the freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to celebrate a particular event that violates his faith.’
They further say Phillips serves all people but refuses particular events. In the past, he has refused to make cakes for bachelor parties and Halloween, for example.
ADF views Phillips’ baking as artistic expression and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
They also bring up Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that legalized equal marriage.
While the case redefined marriage, ADF writes, ‘it was careful to note that the freedom of individuals to hold to “decent and honorable religious” beliefs about marriage must also be upheld’.
Ultimately, the conservative nonprofit believes this is not about same-sex marriage. Instead, they view it debating ‘the freedom to live and work according to your deeply held beliefs’.
Unforeseen consequences for LGBTI rights
While the outcome of Oberegefell will likely remain unchanged, this new case must examine the language and ramifications of it.
‘The question is whether Obergefell was supposed to end the conversation with a definitive victory for one side, or whether there are still further questions to fight over,’ University of Chicago Law School professor William Baude told CNN.
The First Amendment, including both its tenets of freedom of speech and religion, is crucial. Now, however, it’s facing off against the matter of discrimination.
The court will have to examine how these two principles co-exist and how far Obergefell extends rights.
Lambda Legal cautions the possible outcome of this case: ‘We are seeing some business owners claiming religious rights to turn away LGBT people, ignoring that the public marketplace must be open to everyone regardless of anyone’s religious beliefs.’
Depending on how the court applies the law to this case, LGBTI rights could face new hurdles.