Supreme Court to weigh free speech, discrimination in wedding cake case

The Supreme Court has a tough question ahead: Where do you draw the line between free speech and discrimination?

The case headed to the high court in the new term that begins next month centers on Jack Phillips, the owner of the Colorado-based Masterpiece Cakeshop who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Phillips claims he shouldn’t be forced to under the state’s anti-discrimination law and gained a strong ally this week when the Trump administration filed a friend of the court brief on his behalf.

Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall and DOJ attorneys claim there is no clear line between Phillips’s speech and that of his clients when he designs and creates a custom wedding cake.

“He is not merely tolerating someone else’s message on his property; he is giving effect to their message by crafting a unique product with his own two hands,” the administration said in its 41-page brief.

“In addition, because Phillips knowingly creates each custom cake for a specific couple and a specific event, observers could reasonably attribute to him a message of neutrality or endorsement.”

Because of the artistry associated with custom cakes, Phillips argues that he honors God through his work by declining to use his creative talents to design and create cakes that violate his religious beliefs. These include cakes with offensive messages and cakes to celebrate Halloween.

But the American Civil Liberties Union attorneys representing the couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, claim that Phillips’s reasoning for discriminating against their clients could apply to a host of other businesses.

“For example, hair salons, tailors, restaurants, architecture firms, florists, jewelers, theaters…

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