What’s Next for Civil Rights After the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Ruling?


On Monday June 4th the Supreme Court announced their 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the Lakewood Masterpiece Cakestore, which had refused to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor cast the lone dissenting votes.

In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins tried to order a custom wedding cake when Masterpiece’s owner Jack Phillips declined their request, informing the couple that he did not create wedding cakes for same-sex marriages owing to his Christian religious beliefs.

The couple had brought their case to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that had ruled that Masterpiece Cakeshop had discriminated against the couple. Many people are now wondering what the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Masterpiece means for civil rights and protections for the LGBTQ community.

Scott Skinner-Thompson, a Colorado Law associate professor at CU Boulder says that the ruling was narrow and does not undermine Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws.

“I was a bit surprised that the case was 7-2 and that the court decided to focus pretty much exclusively on the freedom of religion argument, but what that enabled the court to do was craft an extremely narrow opinion that found in favor of the cake baker Jack Phillips, largely because of statements that the court interpreted as being hostile to religion that were made by certain members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. But what the court confirmed in its majority opinion was that states such as Colorado can consistent with the First Amendment of the constitution, prohibit discrimination by businesses against LGBT people and the court reiterated that in several points in its decision.”

Skinner-Thompson contributed to an amicus brief that was submitted to the Supreme Court in support of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.