Nation Has Its Eye on This Cake Case
On 'The Ingraham Angle' on Monday night, two guests went head-to-head about a range of rights guaranteed by the Constitution
“Just because you have the right to get married does not mean you have the right to force someone else to participate in helping to celebrate it,” Jim Campbell told Laura Ingraham on “The Ingraham Angle” Monday night on Fox News.
Campbell is senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit group that is defending Masterpiece Cakeshop of Colorado, a family-owned business and one of the two opposing parties in a case the highest court in the land will begin hearing oral arguments on today. The case will be closely watched around the country.
The dispute pits several cherished civil liberties against each another. At issue is whether the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of self-expression and religion trumps the right for members of protected classes to be free from discrimination in public establishments.
In July of 2012, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips declined a request to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple. The couple filed a complaint, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found Phillips had discriminated against them. Phillips, a Colorado native and cake artist, appealed, but the commission’s decision was upheld. His current appeal to the Supreme Court posits that the Colorado Court of Appeals decision violated his First Amendment-guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Also on “The Ingraham Angle” Monday night debating the case was Ian Millhiser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
For Jim Campbell, one’s views of same-sex marriage are not at issue in this case. “You can support same-sex marriage and support Jack Phillips,” he argued. Further, he noted, “Everyone understands that no artist or creative professional should be forced to celebrate something that conflicts with their deep beliefs, whether those beliefs are religious or those beliefs are based on something else.”
Ingraham asked whether a gay baker should be required to bake a cake for a white supremacist organization — and Millhiser waffled. “There is no law saying that you can’t discriminate against someone because they are racists,” he said. He called such arguments “red herrings.” He said the law only requires non-discrimination against certain protected classes — and gave examples such as race, gender, religion, and in some states, sexual orientation.
This is where the rubber meets the road. What Millhiser attempted to argue — but never went so far as to actually say — was that the law permits discrimination against some groups, but not others. And further, to do business in America, some groups should be required to sacrifice their deeply held beliefs to order to advance other groups’ rights to nondiscrimination.
“That doesn’t seem like the America I want to live in.”
That’s a tough pill to swallow for many Americans. Allowing the rights of one group to supersede those of another just doesn’t seem fair — protected group or not. In the end, what will SCOTUS choose to do?
For Campbell, in Washington D.C., those protected classes include political persuasion. He raised the point that forcing Republican speechwriters to work for Democrats — and visa versa — wouldn’t work well for anyone.
“That doesn’t seem like the America I want to live in,” he added.
Michele Blood is a freelance writer based in Flemington, New Jersey.