The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns free speech, religious liberty, and same-sex marriage. All three of these topics are involved in one very important case. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in the Jack Phillips case. The question to be answered is: Can Colorado force Phillips to go against his religious beliefs in order to create a custom cake for a same-sex couple?
Phillips’ attorneys argue that he wants to use his creative talents to “speak messages that he agrees with, while still welcoming all customers into his store.” He should be free to do so because the rights of free speech and religious liberty are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The opposing side basically argues that he does not have these rights when dealing with same-sex marriage.
Emilie Kao posted an article at The Daily Signal that gives some highlights of Phillips’ argument.
1. Mutual Tolerance Is Essential in a Free Society. … Justice Anthony M. Kennedy [said], “tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs” [because they “compared Phillips to a racist and a Nazi]. …
Kennedy also pointed out there were other cake shops that would have accommodated Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the same-sex couple who requested a cake for their wedding.
In a similar line of questioning, Justice Samuel Alito pointed out that the state of Colorado had failed to demonstrate mutual tolerance when it only protected the freedom of cake artists who landed on one side of the gay marriage debate – namely, the state’s side. …
2. Compelled Speech for Everyone. … At one point, Justice Stephen Breyer followed up on a question from Justice Neil Gorsuch about whether a cake artist could be forced to create a cross-shaped cake for a religious group that shared the beliefs of the KKK. Cole [ACLU lawyer representing the couple] responded that if the cake artist did so for the Red Cross, then yes, the artist would have to do so for the religious group as well.
[Justice Samuel Alito asked a similar question.] In the exchange with Alito, the Colorado solicitor general said that cake artists could not discriminate on the basis of identity, but could discriminate on the basis of messages. Gorsuch later responded, saying that’s exactly what Phillips has argued.
3. Disagreement Does Not Equal Discrimination. … During the oral arguments, the court appeared to recognize what is patently obvious from the facts. Phillips welcomes all people into his store, encourages them to buy off-the-shelf items, and will make custom-designed cakes for them provided they don’t ask for items that violate his beliefs….
4. Orthodoxy Determined by the State. Finally, the oral arguments revealed the scope of how far the state of Colorado is willing to go to impose its views of marriage on citizens. In one line of questioning from Roberts, Colorado admitted that it would force Catholic Legal Services to provide a same-sex couple with legal services related to their wedding even if it violates Catholic teachings on marriage.
Free speech and religious liberty are hanging on the Supreme Court’s decision on this case. The entire case seems to be built on a liberal agenda to further destroy religious freedom. There seems to be no thought about the loss of free speech because liberals only approve of free speech for their side.
Phillips is a business man who seeks to earn his living by using his creative talents. He desires to do so “in a manner consistent with his deeply held religious beliefs.” In doing so, he has turned down other requests to create custom cakes expressing ideas that go against his conscience – such as “Halloween and divorce, anti-American themes, and even anti-gay messages.” He does not turn down the business because of the person, but always because of the message.
This case is a big one that will have lasting effects on Americans and their freedoms. The Court’s decision in this case can either protect liberty and “foster more civil dialogue on marriage” or destroy freedoms and further divide Americans. Hopefully, the Justices will get this case right!