U.S. Supreme Court Hears Wedding Vendor’s Religious Liberty Case

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case addressing whether a wedding vendor has the right to refuse to participate in a same-sex wedding by baking a cake for the ceremony. The case has implications for conscience rights and religious liberty.

Jack Philips, owner of Masterpiece Cakes in Colorado, declined a request by a same-sex couple to bake a cake for their upcoming wedding, citing his religious objections to same-sex marriage. The couple reported him to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which charged Philips with discrimination under Colorado law. Lower courts ruled against Philips, stating that he had a duty to serve the couple regardless of his religious objections because he operated a commercial enterprise.

Philips argued that requiring him to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding was forcing him to use his creative talents to endorse something he finds objectionable on religious grounds. Philips stated that he does not bake Halloween cakes, and would also refuse to bake a cake endorsing other objectionable messages. He did not refuse to provide the couple other baked goods, but declined to use his talents to bake the wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony, because he considered it an endorsement of same-sex marriage, which offends his religious convictions.

Three bishops chairing the USCCB’s Committees on religious liberty, defense of marriage, and marriage and family life issued a statement imploring the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Philips as a way of respecting rights of conscience and religious liberty, stating, “We pray that the Court will continue to preserve the ability of people to live out their faith in daily life, regardless of their occupation.” The Court will issue its opinion by June of next year.