Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, José Andrés, Padma Lakshmi, and Carla Hall are just a few of the over 35 celebrity chefs who have filed an amicus brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case on behalf of the same-sex couple that was refused a wedding cake by Denver baker Jack Phillips.
The ‘Chefs for Equality’ brief includes bakers, chefs, restaurateurs and other culinary industry leaders from every state, plus Washington D.C. In addition to food professionals from all over the country
The same is true of Phillips’s wedding cakes. Regardless of the creativity of his designs or the skill
with which he executes them, Phillips’s customers purchase a product intended to be consumed. If that
were not the case, there would be no reason for Phillips to “write, paint, and sculpt using mostly
edible materials like icing and fondant rather than ink and clay.” Pet. Br. 20. For that reason, the
comparison to “abstract painting[s] *** [and] modern sculpture[s],” Pet. Br. 20-21—items that presumably
have no purpose other than to reveal the expression of the artist—is inapt.
The Colorado Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals that bakery owner Jack Phillips cannot cite religious beliefs or free speech in order to discriminate against same-sex couples. Amicus briefs in support of the same-sex couple and the the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s deadline to file at the Supreme Court of the United States ended yesterday. Oral arguments will be heard by the Court on December 5th.
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U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco of The Department of Justice submitted a motion for argument time to the high court on Wednesday in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Commission on Civil Rights in support of a Colorado baker who refused on religious grounds to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
The National Law Journal reported in September that the Justice Department was internally divided over whether to participate at all in the case. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, overcoming objections, directed the filing of the amicus brief, according to lawyers with knowledge of the decision.
In its motion for argument time, Francisco told the justices: “As a general matter, the United States has a substantial interest in the preservation of federal constitutional rights of free expression. In addition, the United States has a particular interest in the scope of such rights in the context of the Colorado statute here, which shares certain features with federal public accommodations laws, including Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Senators during Francisco’s confirmation process questioned his remarks at a Heritage Foundation event in which he spotlighted the plaintiffs in big social cases against the Obama administration. He noted plaintiffs challenging the Affordable Care Act included a group of nuns, Catholic Charities and “inner city” Catholic schools.
“On marriage,” Francisco said in the Heritage speech, “[we] need to do the same. Focus on the florist, on the baker, the sincere small businessmen under attack.”
The American Bar Association filed the brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case currently awaiting review before the Supreme Court about a “Christian” baker who refused to bake a cake for a same sex couple because of his religious beliefs and that he is an artist before being a business.
Jill Griebel, baker and owner of the Hayloft Reception Hall in Hoagland, Indiana joined 10 other cake designers from around the country filed the brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case “in support of neither party.” But in actuality it biased to the baker’s refusal and not non-discrimination.
The filing frames bakers as cake artists and includes dozens of pictures of decorated cakes – including one of a silver pail with lobster and corn spilling out and a Noah’s Ark cake complete with bunnies and giraffes.
“If this brief did nothing beyond showcasing this small sample of creative work, it would surely convey that these unique projects involve artistic talent and communicate emotions and messages at least as clearly as other forms of art,” the filing said.
The National Law Journal said if the high court agrees that making cakes is an expression protected by the First Amendment, it could rule that by forcing the baker to accommodate the couple, Colorado was improperly compelling him to express himself in celebration of a same-sex marriage, contrary to his religious beliefs.
“This court should make clear in its opinion – regardless of which party ultimately prevails in this particular case – that cake artists are indeed practitioners of an expressive art and that they are entitled to the same respect under the First Amendment as artists using any other medium,” the brief said.
A date for oral arguments in the case has not yet been set but could come in December.
In a major upcoming Supreme Court case that weighs equal rights with “religious liberty”, the Trump administration on Thursday sided with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
In July 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig went to Denver’s Masterpiece Cake Shop, owned by Jack Phillips (above) , looking for a cake to celebrate the couple’s upcoming nuptials.
Phillips denied the couple’s request and later admitted he had turned away other same-sex couples as a matter of policy.
In 2013, a judge ruled against Phillips. The Colorado Civil Rights Division’s [CCRD’s] decision noted evidence in the record that Phillips had expressed willingness to take a cake order for the “marriage” of two dogs, but not for the commitment ceremony of two women, and that he would not make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration “just as he would not be willing to make a pedophile cake.”
Phillips and his lawyers, anti-gay legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, have been appealing the ruling since, and losing
The L.A. Times reports:
Acting Solicitor Gen. Jeffrey B. Wall filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the cake maker’s rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion should prevail over a Colorado civil rights law that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“A custom wedding cake is a form of expression,” he said. “It is an artistic creation that is both subjectively intended and objectively perceived as a celebratory symbol of a marriage.” And as such, the baker has a free-speech right under the 1st Amendment to refuse to “express” his support for a same-sex marriage, Wall argued.
The case of the Colorado cake maker has emerged as the latest battle in the culture wars. It is a clash between the religious rights of a conservative Christian against gay rights and equal treatment for same-sex couples.
The DOJ’s decision to support Phillips is the latest in a series of steps the Trump administration has taken to rescind Obama administration positions favorable to gay rights and to advance new policies on the issue.
Read the brief here.