The Justice Department on Thursday filed a brief in support of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple, in the latest religious freedom case brought before the highest court in the land.
Jake Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, claimed a religious exemption to Colorado’s anti-discrimination law when a gay couple asked him to bake them a cake for their wedding.
“When Phillips designs and creates a custom wedding cake for a specific couple and a specific wedding, he plays an active role in enabling that ritual, and he associates himself with the celebratory message conveyed,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief.
The Supreme Court announced in June that it would hear the case after state courts ruled on the side of the couple.
Wall added, “Forcing Phillips to create [an] expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights.”
The high court will attempt to adjudicate this complex notion of “expression” and whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel the baker to partake in such “expression” violates his constitutionally protected Christian beliefs about marriage.
“I never thought the government would try to take away my freedoms and force me to create something that goes against my morals,” Phillips told Fox News on Thursday.
The ACLU has accused the Trump administration of advocating for “nothing short of a constitutional right to discriminate” with the release of the brief.
“This Justice Department has already made its hostility to the rights of LGBT people and so many others crystal clear,” Louise Melling, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement. “But this brief was shocking, even for this administration.”
“What matters is how our laws can be brought to bear against those who believe,” Lee said Thursday. “The government cannot force you to speak where you would choose to remain silent. These are foundational pillars of [the] Constitution.”
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