"Phillips’ petition quotes Barnette that the point is to protect the private citizen from uttering “what is not in his mind.” On this basis the Supreme Court protected from punishment not just students from saying the Pledge, but an automobile owner who covered up the state motto “Live Free or Die” on his license plate." Center for Vision & Values
In any nation that aspires to be free, freedoms will clash, and there will be winners and losers. Speeding laws limit the freedom to drive fast in favor of the freedom to drive safely. Theft laws limit the freedom to take things we want in favor of the freedom to keep what’s ours. In the retail setting, antidiscrimination laws limit the freedom to sell selectively in favor of the freedom to buy what we want without being turned away because the seller doesn’t like “our kind of people.”
Soon, the Supreme Court will rule in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (if it hasn’t already by the time this post appears). When it does, it’s likely that one set of freedoms will be protected or expanded, and another set will be limited. Which freedoms should prevail?
Though I’m not a lawyer, several features of the case are clear to me, and they point toward the conclusion that the Court ought to rule in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop.
This article is a short summary of the oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 5, 2017. In the article, I provide a few bits of commentary. But, this is primarily a summary.1 Hopefully, it can spur each of us on to consider the issue of soul liberty in the public square in these troubled times.
Kristen Waggoner, Philipps’ attorney, argued his objection is not to the people who want the cake. Instead, the objection is the message it communicates. “The First Amendment prohibits the government from forcing people to express messages that their violate religious convictions” (4:12-19). The back and forth centered on this point. What is “speech?” How do you separate the identity of the customer from the message the product communicates?