U.S. Supreme Court

Dozens of amicus briefs support Christian bakery owner who refused to make cake for gay wedding

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Dozens of amicus briefs have been filed in support of the owner of a Christian bakery who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

SCOTUSblog lists more than 50 amicus briefs filed in the Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Forty-six briefs were filed in early September on behalf of bakery owner Jack Phillips, the Deseret News reports.

Phillips had told Charlie Craig and David Mullins in July 2012 that his religious beliefs prevented him from baking the cake but he would be happy to sell other baked goods. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission issued a cease-and-desist order against Phillips for violating the state’s public accommodations law.

More than 30 groups supporting the bakery owner had participated in a conference call to develop their general strategy before filing briefs, according to one of the participants who spoke with the Deseret News, George Fox University politics professor Mark David Hall.

The U.S. Justice Department is among those who support the bakery owner. Its amicus brief says the First Amendment protects Phillips’ refusal to make a cake that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also filed briefs.

Also making the First Amendment argument is an amicus brief (PDF) filed by 34 legal scholars, including Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett, Northwestern law professor Stephen Presser, Stanford law professor Michael McConnell, Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda, and Villanova law professor Michael Moreland.

The legal scholars ask the Supreme Court to recognize the distinction between an objection to same-sex marriage and an objection to serving people who are gay. “Phillips clearly did not have any objection to selling to customers on the basis of their sexual orientation,” the brief says. Rather, his objection is “to designing and baking for the purpose of celebrating same-sex weddings.”

Yet another amicus brief (PDF), filed on behalf of cake artists, includes about three dozen photos of wedding cakes to show that cake decorating is an art, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. One pictured cake looks like crawfish in a pot, another displays a herringbone china pattern, while another depicts the Oklahoma State University mascot riding a pig.

“If pictures are worth a thousand words,” the National Law Journal reports, the cake brief “is many times longer than court rules allow.”

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