Masterpiece Cake Shop Case: Perspective

| June 7, 2018

This week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of American rights, specifically Jack Phillips rights as the owner of Masterpiece cakeshop. This case arose when a same-sex couple asked Phillips to make a cake for their wedding. Phillips refused to make them a wedding cake because it was against his religion to support a same sex marriage.

The couple, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission under the public accommodations law adopted by Colorado [4]. The law prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers on the basis of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

This complaint turned into a lawsuit forcing Phillips to refrain from making wedding cakes, which comprised nearly 40% of his business [3].

The ruling forced Phillips not only to create wedding cakes for same sex marriages, but his entire staff was subject to change company policies and attend comprehensive staff training [3]. Phillips went to the Supreme Court to review the ruling, and they refused to hear the appeal [4]. Later the Supreme Court took the case on for further review in the new term [4].

This week we heard the ruling went in favor of Jack Phillips 7-2 [4]. This ruling definitively made it clear that Phillips was well within his rights to refuse to make the cake.

Phillips refused to create a cake for the same sex ceremony, Phillips was in no way discriminating against the couple [1]. In fact, Phillips had never refused to serve the couple before, which implies his refusal lies solely in the ceremony. His actions simply had nothing to do with the customers as people. Phillips was completely within his own rights to refuse to make a wedding cake for the couple who are celebrating their same-sex marriage.

The right to free speech also infers a right to refrain from speech. In this case Phillips can refrain from speech he does not wish to communicate [2].  A wedding cake is communicative celebratory piece of a wedding. It would make sense that as a devout Christian, Phillips would refuse to create a message of celebration for a ceremony that is against his religion. Forcing him to make this cake is denying him his rights to free speech and to freedom of religion [2].

The win in the Supreme Court is a huge victory. However, upon reflection there is much more to this case that is important to understand.

It is important to contemplate the damage to Phillips business and reputation as he moves forward from this debacle. While fighting for his rights Phillips entire life was damaged.

Phillips wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post in which he describes his fears, and how detrimental this case was on his life,

“Will my shop survive the 40 percent loss of business that we suffered when the government forced us to decide to stop designing wedding cakes? Or will everything that my wife and I worked for be gone?… The government’s hostility toward my beliefs has spread through pockets of my community. My life and the lives of my family have been threatened repeatedly.” [3]

Phillips went on to describe the threats he received and explains that his wife was afraid to step foot into their own shop [3].

Phillips prevailed in the Supreme Court case, but it had irreversible effects on his livelihood. It is important to understand the sacrifice made by this man and to be thankful that Phillips had the integrity to withstand this scrutiny and stand up for our freedoms as Americans. I hate to see someone persecuted for upholding their right to free speech and religious freedoms. This country was founded on rights and the Constitution which is the ultimate law of the U.S. and should be adhered to as such. People should always be protected and allowed to exercise these rights as U.S. citizens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] French, David. “Stop Misrepresenting Masterpiece Cakeshop.” National Review, National Review, 1 Dec. 2017, www.nationalreview.com/2017/11/masterpiece-cakeshop-case-stop-misrepresenting/.

[2] “Read Oral Arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 Dec. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/12/05/politics/scotus-oral-arguments-transcript/index.html.

[3] Phillips, Jack. “Opinion | I’m the Masterpiece Cakeshop Baker. Will the Supreme Court Uphold My Freedom?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 26 Apr. 2018

[4] Schallhorn, Kaitlyn. “Supreme Court Decides Colorado Gay Wedding Cake Case: A Timeline of Events.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 4 June 2018, www.foxnews.com/us/2018/06/04/supreme-court-decides-colorado-gay-wedding-cake-case-timeline-events.html.

[5] Skilling, Chaney. “‘It’s Not about Being Anti-Gay’: At Masterpiece Cakeshop, Hugs and Brownie Sales Follow Landmark Supreme Court Ruling.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 4 June 2018, www.denverpost.com/2018/06/04/masterpiece-cakeshop-gay-wedding-cake-reaction/.