In 2012, a same-sex couple entered Masterpiece Cakeshop and asked its owner, Jack Phillips, to create a cake for their wedding reception in Denver, Colorado. Phillips declined the request, reportedly telling the couple, “Sorry guys, I don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.”
That brief, 20-second exchange eventually found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it is now the subject of one of the most controversial First Amendment cases in years. The issue before the court is whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel Phillips to create a cake for a gay wedding violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment.
Arguing on the side of Masterpiece Cakeshop are Robert Corn-Revere (Davis Wright Tremaine) and Ilya Shapiro (Cato Institute). Arguing on the side of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission are John Paul Schnapper-Casteras (Schnapper-Casteras PLLC) and Sarah Warbelow (Human Rights Campaign). The debate is moderated by American University Law School Professor Stephen Warmiel.
A video version of this and past First Amendment Salon conversations can be found on FIRE’s YouTube page. To learn more about the First Amendment Salon, visit the “special collections” section of FIRE’s First Amendment Library.
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Use with the permission of the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education.