The Supreme Court will take up one of the biggest cases of its current term on Tuesday when it hears oral arguments in a fight between gay rights and the freedom of expression that centers on whether a baker is required to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.
The justices in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission will look to decide the constitutionality of Colorado's public accommodations law that forces baker Jack Phillips to participate in a form of speech that defies his religious beliefs by making a cake for a same-sex wedding. The Masterpiece case is one of several wedding vendor controversies making their way toward the Supreme Court.
"This is not about a generic cake someone picks up at Costco," Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the right-leaning Judicial Crisis Network, said Monday. "After all, Jack Phillips was willing to sell an off-the-shelf cake to the couple. But the government wanted to unconstitutionally force him to design a custom wedding cake that would promote a message in direct conflict with his conscience and deeply held religious beliefs, even when there were plenty of other businesses with no such conflict who were happy to bake that cake."
"The Left will try to frame this case as an LBGTQ case but, at its core, it’s about whether or not the government can force or compel an American citizen — protected by the First Amendment—to violate their religious convictions and their right to free speech," she added.
Tony Perkins, president of the socially conservative Family Research Council, plans to lead a rally in support of the baker outside the Supreme Court Tuesday during the Masterpiece arguments.
The American Civil Liberties Union will represent the plaintiffs, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, the gay couple who wanted Phillips to bake their cake. They will also appear outside the high court Tuesday. Craig's mother, Debbie Munn, also will attend.
"Our clients in the Masterpiece case have already felt the stinging harm of being turned away from a business simply because of who they are, a harm that no one should ever have to endure," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU's LGBT and HIV Project. "A ruling in this case to give businesses the right to refuse service to customers would shatter longstanding nondiscrimination laws and have wide impacts on religious and racial minorities, single mothers, people with disabilities, and others."
The Masterpiece case could surpass President Trump's travel ban as the most anticipated case of the Supreme Court's term, as evidenced by the large amount of public interest outside the high court. Before the justices heard arguments in Christie v. NCAA on Monday that could change the future of sports gambling in America, people lined up and slept on the sidewalk outside the Supreme Court Sunday night to make sure they got a seat for Tuesday's Masterpiece arguments.