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Case

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Court: U.S. Supreme Court

Status: Won

Last Updated: 5/29/2020

Overview

What's at stake

The freedom to operate a business according to your religious beliefs

The freedom to express yourself artistically without endorsing a view with which you disagree

Summary

In 2012, two men asked Jack Phillips to create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. Jack politely declined, offering to sell them anything in his store, but designing a custom wedding cake for a same-sex marriage was not something he could do, because of his religious beliefs about marriage. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission acted on the couple's complaint, finding Jack violated anti-discrimination law—despite the Commission giving a free pass to three different bakers who refused orders from customers opposing same-sex marriage.

ADF represented Jack at the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the government cannot force artists to use their expressive talents to celebrate events or express ideas that they do not support. In a 7-2 ruling, the Court found that the government was wrong to punish Jack for peacefully living out his beliefs in the marketplace. The Court called out the Commission’s double standard of  punishing Jack, but not the three artists who refused messages against same-sex marriage. Holding that the free exercise clause forbids hostility toward religion, it rejected one Commissioner’s claim that believing marriage is between a man and woman is akin to being racist.

Masterpiece expanded on what the Court said before: religious persons merit protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths. And the decision dovetails with NIFLA v. Becerra, where the Court firmly rejected government-compelled speech—an issue argued, but not decided in Masterpiece. Together, Masterpiece and NIFLA are foundational to restoring religious freedom in America.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies defended Jack Phillips and his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, free of charge.

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Resources

Legal Documents

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Title
Date
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Legal Scholar Adam J. 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United States", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v.-colorado-civil-rights-commission/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---united-states.pdf", "Date": "09/07/2017 4:10:14 PM"}, {"Court": "U.S. Supreme Court", "Title": "Amicus brief - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops et al.", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v.-colorado-civil-rights-commission/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---united-states-conference-of-catholic-bishops-et-al.pdf", "Date": "09/07/2017 4:10:14 PM"}, {"Court": "U.S. Supreme Court", "Title": "Amicus Brief - William Jack and the National Center for Law and Policy", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v.-colorado-civil-rights-commission/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---william-jack-and-the-national-center-for-law-and-policy.pdf", "Date": "09/07/2017 4:10:14 PM"}, {"Court": "U.S. Supreme Court", "Title": "Amicus Brief - 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"https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v.-colorado-civil-rights-commission/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---the-foundation-for-moral-law.pdf", "Date": "09/06/2017 4:10:13 PM"}, {"Court": "U.S. Supreme Court", "Title": "Amicus Brief - Southeastern Legal Foundation and international law scholars", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v.-colorado-civil-rights-commission/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---southeastern-legal-foundation-and-international-law-scholars.pdf", "Date": "09/01/2017 4:10:13 PM"}, {"Court": "U.S. Supreme Court", "Title": "Amicus Brief - Indiana Family Institute, Inc.; Indiana Family Action, Inc.; and the American Family Association of Indiana, Inc.", "FileName": 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PM"}]}

Biographies

Kristen K. Waggoner

General Counsel

Kristen K. Waggoner serves as General Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. Her role includes oversight of the U.S. legal division, a team of 100 attorneys and staff who engage in litigation, public advocacy, and legislative support.


Additional Resources

 

Watch: Justice for Jack

One-page summary

The Federalist Society: Compelled Speech in Masterpiece Cakeshop: What the Supreme Court’s June 2018 Decisions Tell Us About the Unresolved Questions

SCOTUSblog case page: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Campaign: Create Freely

 
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