Recently, a baker has been fighting a ruling from a Colorado court that he violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a cake for an individual celebrating a gender transition. Jack Phillips, the owner of the cake shop, rejected the cake on the basis of his Christian religious beliefs.
Phillips’ attorney argued the ruling was incorrect since the cake required him to create a message that contradicted his religious beliefs. The lawyer further explained that creating the cake would compel him to say something which he did not believe, violating his first amendment right to freedom of speech.
The issue was brought up at a White House press conference, where Karine Jean-Pierre made a claim on the government’s role in this situation. See the video below.
KJP: "…we can require businesses…to service people, regardless of their backgrounds, even when that means businesses must, incidentally, engage in speech [with] which they disagree…" pic.twitter.com/G8qsPBgBu3
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) December 5, 2022
According to the White House Press Secretary, the government does have the authority to compel private businesses to engage in speech they disagree with.
“Look the Department of Justice said in its brief that for decades nondiscrimination public accommodations laws have coexisted with the first amendment. Courts have recognized that we can require businesses to service people, regardless of their backgrounds, even when that means businesses must, incidentally engage in speech which they disagree upon.”
Karine Jean-Pierre seems to be ignoring that the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of Phillips over a similar issue in 2012. A decade ago, Phillips’ shop refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding only to be sued and face a similar legal battle. Jack also cited his religious beliefs for his refusal to create the cake supporting same-sex marriage as it did not align with Christian teachings.
“I think that the ruling is wrong. The Constitution guarantees me the right to practice my faith, my religion anywhere, anytime. There are no restrictions on it. It also gives me the right to free speech anytime, anywhere. I don’t surrender those rights when I open my doors.”
In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phillips citing that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had engaged in anti-religious bias when enforcing the nondiscrimination law against the baker. SCOTUS is also set to rule on a similar Colorado case involving a web designer.
Case 303 Creative v. Elenis involves Colorado website designer Lorie Smith against the state attempting to impose the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. Smith wanted to post a message on her website stating she would not build websites advocating for same-sex marriage or other forms of non-heterosexual marriage. Smith sued the state after officials deemed her actions to be discriminatory.
The court heard arguments on the case on Monday and it appears the justices will again side with the business owner in this lawsuit. The ruling would maintain that this business would be protected on the grounds of the first amendment.
Contrary to judicial precedent from the highest court in the nation, Karine Jean-Pierre indicates that the Biden administration’s position is to force private citizens into speech they disagree with. However, if Joe Biden decides to expand the Supreme Court, as he has previously hinted at, this could have serious implications.
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