On Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

On December 5th of last year, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case in which a Colorado baker refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. A few days ago in California, a county judge ruled that a baker there could legally do the same. Of course, this decision could be overruled by the high court. Most see these cases as being about free expression v. anti-discrimination, two important American values. The baker and company is the petitioner in the Supreme Court case and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is the respondent. The Supreme Court arguments first centered around whether creating a custom cake would be compelled speech. Next the argument came to the distinction of whether the baker objected to making the cake for the same-sex couple or simply objected to the message the cake would “speak.” In order to avoid any sort of slippery slope situation, the Court would have to rule narrowly on this case. Extreme examples of ruling too broadly either way are a) artists are compelled to create art they disagree with–even state propaganda and b) business owners are allowed to deny services to any class of people they choose. Reading the arguments’ transcript shows a broad ruling is unlikely. The decision will be whether bakers will be compelled to create a cake for an event they disagree with, or same-sex couples will be denied a cake from the shop of their choice. Which is worse: the denial of a service to a class of people or the compulsion of a smaller class of people to do something against their wishes? I’ll leave this one for the justices to decide.



2 thoughts on “On Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

  1. Do we broadly grant businesses the same individual freedoms we provide citizens? Businesses provide certain advantages over individuals (e.g. limited liability), so do they also merit the same individual right to expression that our laws give to citizens?


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