Kaplan & Company, LLP Files Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

By: 
Robbie Kaplan and Joshua Matz
Published on:
October 30th, 2017

Kaplan & Company, LLP has filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The brief was filed on behalf of leading scholars of religious liberty and constitutional law.

Jack Phillips is the proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a bakery in Colorado that produces bespoke cakes for special events.  In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who had recently been married in Massachusetts, asked Phillips to bake a cake for a post-wedding celebration in Colorado.  Phillips refused, saying that he could not bake a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding consistently with his Christian beliefs.  This refusal to serve Craig and Mullins because of their sexual orientation violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA).  Masterpiece presents the question whether the Free Speech Clause or the Free Exercise Clause forbid the application of CADA to Phillips under these circumstances. 

Kaplan & Company’s brief addresses Phillips’ religious liberty claim.  The brief acknowledges that Phillips faces a painful dilemma caused by a conflict between his religious beliefs and his legal obligations.  However, the brief explains that CADA creates an “even playing field in commerce," and operates in a neutral and generally applicable manner.  Phillips’ argument ultimately amounts to a claim that “religious people—but nobody else—should be deemed exempt from the most basic rules that define civil treatment in commerce and social life.”  As such, Phillips’ claim is foreclosed by longstanding Supreme Court precedent, which recognizes that religious liberty does not mean that “each conscience is a law unto itself”.

Read the full brief HERE.