Policy Forum

The First Amendment vs. Anti‐​Discrimination Law: A Preview of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on the Eve of Oral Argument

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Date and Time
December 4, 2017 4 - 5:30 PM EST
Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute
Featuring Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute; and John Paul Schnapper‐​Casteras, Special Counsel for Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy, NAACP Legal Defense Fund; moderated by Roger Pilon, Vice President for Legal Affairs, Cato Institute.

One of the “wedding vendor” cases has finally arrived at the Supreme Court. Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his religious objections to same‐​sex marriage. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission sued him under the state’s anti‐​discrimination law, eventually prevailing in state court. Phillips continues to assert his freedom of speech (more precisely, to be free from compelled speech) and freedom of religion, and the case raises other potential issues: Is there a difference between declining to serve a class of people versus a particular event? Does the level of customization of a product matter? Is artisanal baking even protected by the First Amendment? Shouldn’t all this boil down to the freedom of association — including the freedom not to associate — or maybe it’s no different than Jim Crow–era denials of service? Please join us for a spirited conversation between lawyers who filed briefs on opposite sides of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on the eve of Supreme Court oral argument.