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Posted September 7, 2017, 5:18 pm CDT
The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday filed a U.S. Supreme Court brief siding with a Christian bakery owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
The Justice Department said that Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, can’t be forced to make a cake that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs, report the Washington Post, BuzzFeed News and the National Law Journal (sub. req.).
Forcing Phillips to make the cake would violate his First Amendment rights, the brief argues. “A custom wedding cake is a form of expression, whether pure speech or the product of expressive conduct,” the brief says. “Just as the government may not compel the dissemination of expression, it equally may not compel the creation of expression.”
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission had issued a cease-and-desist order against Phillips. The state said he had violated the state’s public accommodations law, which prohibits businesses from refusing service to customers based on several factors, including marital status and sexual orientation.
The American Civil Liberties Union represents the gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement that the brief was “shocking, even for this administration. What the Trump Administration is advocating for is nothing short of a constitutional right to discriminate.”
The case is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
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