The Trump administration on Wednesday
asked the Supreme Court for permission to argue on behalf of a
Colorado baker who refused to serve a gay couple.
The high court will hear arguments in
Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on
In 2012, Jack Phillips, the owner of
Denver-based Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to consider baking a cake
for Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig. The men married in Massachusetts
and wanted to buy a cake from Phillips for a wedding reception they
were holding in Denver. (Colorado at the time recognized gay and
lesbian couples with civil unions, not marriage.) Phillips said
that serving the couple would violate his religious faith.
The couple sued, saying that Phillips'
faith does not give him a right to discriminate, and a Colorado court
found that Phillips had discriminated against the men under Colorado
law. After the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal,
Phillips turned to the Supreme Court, arguing that the First
Amendment protects his religious rights.
who refused gay couple says Jesus would do the same.)
The government's solicitor general Noel
Francisco filed a motion asking for time to argue the case alongside
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyers who are representing
“As a general matter, the United
States has a substantial interest in the preservation of federal
constitutional rights of free expression,” wrote
Francisco, the third-highest ranking official in the Department
Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for ADF,
welcomed the news.
“We are pleased to have the support of
the Department of Justice. It doesn't come as any surprise that they
would want to protect the First Amendment rights of the country's
citizens,” he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) said that the “stakes could not be higher.”
“A ruling against [the couple] at the
Supreme Court will not just encourage other businesses to engage in
similarly discriminatory practices; it will enshrine a constitutional
right to discriminate,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director
at the ACLU.
(Brief courtesy of Equality