News

Law & the Courts

SCOTUS Sends Gay-Wedding-Cake Case Back to State Court

The Supreme Court (Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case involving an Oregon bakery that refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding, sending the dispute back to a state court and forgoing an opportunity to clarify its position on the matter after ruling narrowly in favor of a Colorado baker in a similar case last year.

Melissa and Aaron Klein, who together own Sweetcakes by Melissa, were fined $135,000 after a lesbian couple filed a complaint with Oregon’s Board of Labor and Industries in response to the Kleins’ refusal to bake a cake for their wedding. The Supreme Court’s Monday decision represents a partial victory for the Kleins as it wipes out a lower court’s previous ruling against them and temporarily spares them from paying the fine, the threat of which forced them to close their bakery.

The case represented an opportunity for the Court’s conservative majority to expand upon the ruling they handed down last year in the case of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who was fined after refusing to bake a custom wedding cake for a gay couple. The court ruled narrowly in Phillips’s favor after finding that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission displayed “anti-religious hostility” in applying the state’s anti-discrimination laws to him.

The Kleins have employed the same defense as Phillips in their fight against state regulators: Custom wedding cakes, they argue, constitute works of art and, as such, should be protected under the First Amendment.

An Oregon court of appeals had previously dismissed that argument, on the grounds that “even when custom-designed for a ceremonial occasion, [wedding cakes] are still cakes made to be eaten.” The court’s logic was echoed by the state in its filings urging SCOTUS not to hear the Kleins’ appeal.

“Baking is conduct, not speech,” the state wrote in those filings. “A bakery open to the public has no right to discriminate against customers on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

Most Popular

Film & TV

America’s Favorite Movie

For more than a decade, readers volunteering their ratings on the movie site IMDb have declared The Shawshank Redemption (1994) their favorite film of all time. (Number two is The Godfather). Unlike the unholy tablets that are the box office charts, which are strongly linked to marketing budgets and show a ... Read More
Film & TV

America’s Favorite Movie

For more than a decade, readers volunteering their ratings on the movie site IMDb have declared The Shawshank Redemption (1994) their favorite film of all time. (Number two is The Godfather). Unlike the unholy tablets that are the box office charts, which are strongly linked to marketing budgets and show a ... Read More
Media

The Media Owe Senator Tom Cotton an Apology

One of the biggest issues people have with the mainstream press these days is that some of its members are so insulated that they end up buying into and promoting false narratives without actually checking these narratives' veracity. That seems to be exactly what happened in mid February, when major outlets ... Read More
Media

The Media Owe Senator Tom Cotton an Apology

One of the biggest issues people have with the mainstream press these days is that some of its members are so insulated that they end up buying into and promoting false narratives without actually checking these narratives' veracity. That seems to be exactly what happened in mid February, when major outlets ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Welcome Back, Plastic Bags

Single-use plastic bags are a miracle of modern technology. Cheap, light, convenient, and ubiquitous, they provide an elegant solution to a problem. If you recycle them, as most people do, and put your rubbish in them, that creates a net reduction in carbon emissions compared with buying the heavier, thicker ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Welcome Back, Plastic Bags

Single-use plastic bags are a miracle of modern technology. Cheap, light, convenient, and ubiquitous, they provide an elegant solution to a problem. If you recycle them, as most people do, and put your rubbish in them, that creates a net reduction in carbon emissions compared with buying the heavier, thicker ... Read More
U.S.

Some Good News Going into the Weekend

It’s Friday -- although I know it’s getting harder and harder to tell these days. You deserve a respite from yesterday’s gloom. (If you’re hungry for more gloom, there’s always the most recent edition of The Editors podcast -- and thank you, dear readers, for checking on me.) Today’s newsletter ... Read More
U.S.

Some Good News Going into the Weekend

It’s Friday -- although I know it’s getting harder and harder to tell these days. You deserve a respite from yesterday’s gloom. (If you’re hungry for more gloom, there’s always the most recent edition of The Editors podcast -- and thank you, dear readers, for checking on me.) Today’s newsletter ... Read More

The Didactic Plague

There are two Christian concepts on my mind on this Palm Sunday. One is theodicy, the other is the sin of presumption. “Theodicy” means “the vindication of God,” referring to a seeming conundrum that has vexed Christian thinkers since the beginning: How can evil coexist with an all-good, all-loving, ... Read More

The Didactic Plague

There are two Christian concepts on my mind on this Palm Sunday. One is theodicy, the other is the sin of presumption. “Theodicy” means “the vindication of God,” referring to a seeming conundrum that has vexed Christian thinkers since the beginning: How can evil coexist with an all-good, all-loving, ... Read More