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Among recent actions by the U.S. Supreme Court, a four-sentence order may set the stage for the court to eventually address the collision between free speech and religious freedom on one hand and gay rights on the other. The order voided a judgment by the state of Oregon that had imposed a $135,000 fine on Portland-area bakery owners—the Kleins—for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a **** couple. Oregon maintained that its anti-discrimination law condemned such a rebuff even when the bakery owners’ religious convictions run counter to participating in a same-sex wedding.
Besides vacating the fine, the court sent the case back to the Oregon Court of Appeals to be reconsidered in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. Masterpiece involved a similar situation in Colorado for Christian baker, Jack Phillips, when he refused, on religious grounds, to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple’s marriage. In Masterpiece, Colorado’s case against Phillips had relied on language in an earlier case, Employment Division v. Smith (1990), which said that religious liberty claims could not be used as a defense against “generally applicable” laws that were “neutrally” enforced. However, the Supreme Court found that the Colorado proceedings against Phillips were far from “neutral.” In fact, they were rife with religious hostility toward him. Besides that, the court found that Colorado had selectively enforced its anti-discrimination laws, making them less than “generally applicable.” Now the court is ordering the Oregon court to review the Klein case looking for the same examples of unfairness it had discovered in Masterpiece.
Klein - Case - Type - Supreme - Court
Klein is the second case of this type that the Supreme Court has sent back to the courts below for reconsideration in light of the Masterpiece decision. Earlier, the Washington Supreme Court was ordered to make such a review in a case involving a florist,...
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