Since the courts uphold that government cannot suppress expression, likewise, is not the converse true? Can the government force creativity out of someone to accommodate another’s contrary beliefs? Herein emerges the distinction between Constitutional Liberty guaranteed by the Bill of Rights in the form of Free Expression and the Civil Right Freedom of Opportunity and Equality interpreted by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Court of Appeals.
Oral Arguments held on Dec. 5th, before the Supreme Court of the United States, will lead to a decision that will affect law on this matter: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission (Docket 16-111)
The question before the court:
“Whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel Phillips to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.” supremecourt.gov/qp/16-00111qp.pdf
Often empowered under the euphoria of the “moral high ground,” extremists dance half naked in protest in the hope their behavior will sway legal interpretation of law, while other “un-compromisers” call upon the heavens and believe the wrath of God is being put to the test: sexual lifestyle intolerance toward gays vs religious intolerance, the offhanded dismissal of religious faith.
It tastes of irony that a “Cake is still just a Cake” if someone believes that God works through their hands to inspire a personalized creation, but when you need to show outrage and validate oppression for being denied the former “blessed” flour and cream, the Cake transforms into part of a “Solemn Union,” a Wedding Cake. Aside from these distractions, this case hinges on our Rights being clearly delineated and differentiated by the court.
Civil Rights Law helps provide equal access to goods and services which include bakery products: Vanilla, Chocolate or Rainbow. But it is the First Amendment that secures our Constitutional Right to determine how we express our values or refuse to express that which contradicts our beliefs; to include when a “Custom Creation” becomes part of a “Solemn Event.”
The primary concern of supporters for the all-encompassing application of the Colorado Statute is that if the US Supreme Court overturns the lower court, everywhere businesses may try to use this decision as a precedent, abuse its interpretation and claim that ANY personal bias is their religious belief.
In contrast and the focus of this case, challengers against the over-reaching Statute argue that it allows government to silence opposition as people become emboldened to dictate that religious and ALL individual expression is subservient to their desires, subject to government prosecution.
Civil Rights are protected when government demands that the products a vendor offers to fellow citizens cannot be denied to any citizen because of the vendor’s racial, religious or sexual bias. But Individual Liberty is at stake if a citizen is required to act contrary to their nature and association, forced to interpret and honestly promote what they do not believe, compelled to use their creative imagination to partake in something that may be incompatible with their values to include religious beliefs; such as “designing” a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. (Gay marriage was also illegal in Colorado at the time, which did not help Masterpiece Cakeshop baker Phillips in the lower courts, and may not apply to the specific question of Free Expression before SCOTUS.)
Subsequently, a mandate of expression would inherently create a vulnerability for the designer to somehow prove satisfactory compliance in the “expressed creation” subject to some arbitrary ethical or yet definable government standard.
The US Supreme Court will rule later in 2018.
Briefs / Transcripts and Audio of Arguments: scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/masterpiece-cakeshop-ltd-v-colorado-civil-rights-commn/ (supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcript/2017)