Today, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission . The implications of this case go far beyond whether a baker should be forced to bake cakes for same-sex weddings. The larger issue is whether any business providing service to the public at large can refuse service for reasons on conscience.
Two amicus briefs demonstrate how the case reaches far beyond Phillips and his refusal to place a same-sex wedding topper on a cake. The first , by several bakers from across the country, explains the artistry involved in cake making.
While these artists did not write for or against any party in their brief, they explain that the creative process involved in making cakes is just as intricate and expressive as songwriting, painting, or web design. Cake artists must use visual-art skills such as painting, drawing, and sculpting, and they must be able to create a unified whole from a series of individual artistic elements, such as textures, photographs, three-dimensional objects, and color. In fact, custom cake design is so artistic that artists’ designs can be protected under federal intellectual property law.
The second , by hundreds of creative professionals from all 50 states and Puerto Rico, delves into the issue of conscience and why it’s important for artisans of all ideologies and persuasions to be able to conduct their business according to their beliefs.
Should an African-American supporter of ‘Black Lives Matter’ be required to make and design a cake for white nationalist function? Must a graphic designer who supports gun control create advocacy literature for the National Rifle Association? Is an atheist photographer obliged to take and publish pictures of a Christian baptism?
The answer to any reasonable person should be, “no.” The Founding Fathers made freedom of religion and freedom of speech part of the first amendment in the Bill of Rights for a reason: the importance of staying true to one’s conscience and deeply held beliefs stands far above any business interest.
This case before the Supreme Court today is about more than cakes. It’s about more than same-sex marriage – or marriage in general. It’s about American entrepreneurs and their right to conduct their business according to their convictions.
And that’s why Jack Phillips and his legal team deserve our prayers.