Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

The Florist and the Cake Artist

The Supreme Court has granted review of the certiorari petition in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That petition presents the question whether Colorado’s public-accommodations law violated the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment when it was used to compel cake artist Jack Phillips to create a custom cake honoring a same-sex marriage in violation of his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage.

Also pending before the Court is the certiorari petition in Arlene’s Flowers, Inc. v. Washington, which presents the question whether the compelled creation and sale of custom floral arrangements to celebrate a wedding, along with compelled attendance at the wedding ceremony, violates the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses.

In its amicus brief in support of the Arlene’s Flowers petition, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty sensibly encourages the Court to hear the two cases in tandem. As the Becket Fund explains, while the two cases have some overlap, the Arlene’s Flowers petition presents “significant factual and legal aspects that are present in a large number of [religious wedding vendor] cases” but that are not involved in Masterpiece Cakeshop. (See amicus brief at 7-14 for specifics.) Further, “the Court has not hesitated to hear together appeals that present related-but-different factual and legal permutations” and “has frequently heard appeals in tandem when certiorari was granted on different dates,” and doing so here would “save Court resources and provide needed guidance to lower courts.”

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