Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Last Friday people began camping out in a line, not to see a movie or buy a phone, but to guarantee a spot in Tuesday's Supreme Court oral arguments.  The Court will hear Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The case is one of several important decisions the Court will be faced with this term.

In 2012, a cake shop refused to create a custom cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception, though they did offer to sell the couple a cake off the shelf.  The couple filed a discrimination claim with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  Both the Commission and the state supreme court ruled in the couple's favor.  The cake shop owner, Jack Phillips, appealed to the Supreme Court.  Phillips argument is that as a cake decorator he has the First Amendment protected right of artistic expression.  The couple argues that rather than artistic expression the case questions "whether the Constitution grants businesses open to the public the right to violate laws against discrimination in the commercial marketplace if the business happens to sell an artistic product."  The couple also points to similar cases in the 1960s that involved people claiming artistic expression as a way to allow discrimination. 

Steve Kurtz, a writer for fox news, summed up the importance of the decision in today's political climate, "two of the most precious rights Americans possess are freedom of expression and freedom to practice their religion as they see fit. Both are enshrined in the First Amendment. But these rights are not absolute. They sometimes may clash with a duty toward others. Masterpiece Cakeshop will test these limits."


The Stavroff Law Firm