You should be paying attention to the case of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips. After all, your freedom depends on it.
Jack is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to restore his right to live and work according to his faith after being sued by a couple for declining to design a custom cake for their same-sex wedding. Today, Alliance Defending Freedom filed its opening brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Jack’s behalf. Here are a few key arguments we are making in his case, and why you should care:
Jack should have the freedom to say “no” to some custom artistic projects while saying “yes” to all people.
Jack’s decision to decline the custom cake order had nothing to do with the same-sex couple that requested it. Jack will sell anything off his shelves to those who walk in the store. In fact, he offered to do just that for the couple suing him.
This case is really about whether Jack has the freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to celebrate a particular event that violates his faith. And this is not the only event he has declined to promote. He has turned down a cake for a divorce party. He has turned down cakes for bachelor parties and Halloween. He serves all people, but does not celebrate all events.
Designing custom cakes is artistic expression protected by the First Amendment.
Jack designs custom cakes through drawing, sculpting, and painting. There is no doubt that there is artistic expression and creativity involved in the custom cakes that Jack designs. It’s why a journalist once called Jack’s shop “an art gallery of cakes.” And artistic expression, just like painting on a canvas or sculpting a chunk of marble, is protected under the First Amendment. (Even the ACLU can’t disagree with that!)
The government should not have the authority to compel or to suppress art.
As we just discussed, art is constitutionally protected as speech. And just like the First Amendment guarantees that the government will not silence or compel our speech, the same is true for artistic expression. As the Supreme Court has ruled before: “At the heart of the First Amendment lies the principle that each person should decide for himself or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence.”
If the government has the power to force artists to portray certain messages or celebrate certain events through their art, then freedom for all of us is at risk. Eliminating the free expression of some endangers it for everyone – and with it goes freedom of speech and our other basic civil liberties.
The government cannot declare that certain beliefs are unacceptable and push them out of the public square.
When the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges to redefine marriage, it was careful to note that the freedom of individuals to hold to “decent and honorable religious” beliefs about marriage must also be upheld. Most major religions believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. One Supreme Court decision does not make this belief any less valid—and the Court recognized that.
If the government is permitted to decide which beliefs are acceptable, that should concern us all. Cultures and governments change, and it could be your ideas or beliefs that the government targets next – which is why we must advocate for the freedom of all to peacefully live and work according to their beliefs, regardless of whether we agree.
It doesn’t matter where you stand on same-sex marriage. That’s not what this case is about. This case is about the freedom to live and work according to your deeply held beliefs. If you want that freedom for yourself – then supporting Jack is a no-brainer.
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