By: Jonathan Saenz – txvalues.org – June 4, 2018
This morning the U.S. Supreme Court released its Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, holding 7-2 that the Colorado government violated the constitutional rights (Free Exercise Clause) of private business owner and cake baker Jack Phillips. Last year, Texas Values joined 32 state family policy organizationsfrom across the country supporting Colorado cake shop owner Jack Phillips, a supporter of traditional marriage who is being forced by the government to make a cake with a specific theme: celebrating a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Find the Court’s full opinion here.
“This is an important religious liberty victory for a private business owner who prevailed over the wrongful attempts of the government to punish Jack Phillips for his faith. This decision will go a long way to helping Texas lawmakers pass state law protection on these specific religious freedom attacks from local government laws like Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, just to name a few. The First Amendment protects religious liberty and freedom of speech and does not give government power to force artists such as Jack Phillips to express someone else’s message, particularly on an issue such as marriage that has been widely debated in our country,” said Jonathan Saenz, Lawyer and President of Texas Values.
Notable quotes from the opinion:
“The reason and motive for the baker’s refusal were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions.”
“To Phillips, creating a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding would be equivalent to participating in a celebration that is contrary to his own most deeply held beliefs.”
“[T]he religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views.”
“[G]overnment has no role in deciding or even suggesting whether the religious ground for Phillips’ conscience-based objection is legitimate or illegitimate.”
A May 2014 order by a state of Colorado government entity, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, goes much further than simply ordering Phillips to “accommodate” the wishes of two men who in 2012 asked Phillips to design a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony during a 30-second visit to Phillips’ store. Phillips is required by a Colorado government entity to re-educate his staff — most of whom are his family members — essentially telling them that he was wrong to operate his business according to his faith. He must also report to the government for two years, describing all cakes that he declines to create and the reasons why. As a result of this order, Phillips has lost an estimated 40 percent of his business. The Colorado Supreme Court declined to take the case after the state’s Court of Appeals affirmed the order. The U.S. Supreme Court case is Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado.
Last year during the 2017 Texas Legislative Session numerous religious freedom bills were filed to protect private business owners like Jack Phillips, but none ever reached the House Floor in large part because of the obstructionist leadership of outgoing House Speaker Joe Straus.