Masterpiece Cakeshop, One Month Later

The early June decision is already affecting other cases pitting religious liberty against LGBTQ rights

Within a month of the U.S. Supreme Court issuing its decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Com-mission, the ruling had already drawn to the court other high-profile cases questioning whether public businesses can refuse service to LGBTQ individuals based on sincerely held religious beliefs. The same week as the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled a pair of business owners cannot refuse to make artistic creations for same-sex weddings based on their religious beliefs. And on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a case back to the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, when the state court has previously ruled against a florist who refused to create arrangements for a same-sex couple’s wedding.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled baker Jack Phillips did not get a fair hearing at the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it weighed whether he could receive a religious exemption from the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, but the court’s holding did not change the substance or enforcement of CADA. It has not stopped the courts in Arizona or Washington from ruling against the business owners in each instance.

Despite the narrow ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, experts say the nation’s highest court is unlikely to take up a similar case in the near future to un-tangle unresolved questions. The ruling ultimately did not address issues such as whether CADA is neutral and generally applicable or what constitutes speech.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the July 9, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.