The Supreme Court will, this fall, take up a case that has the potential to shift mightily the unjust burden courts and state governments have placed on business owners who do not believe in gay marriage. It is the case of baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop and his refusal to bake a wedding cake for gay couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. Phillips was found guilty of violating the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, and he has appealed the decision to the nation’s highest court. If he is successful there, it could significantly change a national landscape that has seen everyone from bakers to photographers to T-shirt makers prosecuted for exercising their First Amendment rights.
On Thursday, the Trump administration surprised pro-gay activists by wading into the issue and filing a brief on behalf of the embattled Phillips. In its argument to the court, the Department of Justice supported his contention that baking cakes was a form of expression protected by the Constitution. The government, the DOJ argued, does not have the authority to compel Phillips to use that expression to celebrate a ceremony he does not believe in.
“When Phillips designs and creates a custom wedding cake for a specific couple and a specific wedding, he plays an active role in enabling that ritual, and he associates himself with the celebratory message conveyed,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall wrote. “Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has unfortunately been on the wrong legal side of this debate from the beginning, issued a predictably hysterical statement about the DOJ’s brief.
“This Justice Department has already made its hostility to the rights of LGBT people and so many others crystal clear,” whined deputy legal director Louise Melling. “But this brief was shocking, even for this administration.”
Yes, it’s “shocking” to the ACLU that a Republican administration should stand up for an individual’s First Amendment rights. That, if nothing else, is a sign of how far afield the gay mob has managed to stretch the definition of discrimination.
It is nothing short of absurd that we should accept the premise of Colorado and the ACLU in this case: That when there is a conflict between religious liberty/free speech and the rights of gays to have a wedding cake, the Constitution sides with the rights of gays. It is laughable. We pray – no pun intended – that the Supreme Court finally shuttles us back to the shore of sanity when they rule on this case in the fall.