About This Live BlogToday, December 5, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case which could have a major nationwide impact on nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people and keeping businesses #OpenToAll.
What You Need to Know About the 'Masterpiece Cakeshop' Argument
An Overview of the Landmark Supreme Court Case
THE CASE: At the heart of the case are two plaintiffs, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a same-sex couple who attempted to buy a cake at Masterpiece Cakeshop to celebrate their wedding. The owner of the bakery, Jack Phillips, refused service to the two men, citing his religious beliefs against same sex marriage. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and won their case in several district courts. Phillips and his lawyers, however, petitioned the case to the Supreme Court, which granted review. In the meantime, the ACLU has taken up representation for the couple, and will be arguing for the plaintiffs in today’s proceedings.
THE TIMELINE: The argument begins today at 10:00am ET. Each side will have 30 minutes of argument. For the petitioner, Kristen Kellie Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization committed to rolling back protections for LGBTQ people, will argue for 20 minutes total, including rebuttal, and U.S. Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco will present arguments for 10 minutes. For respondents, Colorado Solicitor General Frederick R. Yarger and David Cole of the ACLU will evenly divide the time, with 15 minutes each. Meanwhile, from 8:00am ET until 12:00pm ET, a rally will take place outside of the Supreme Court in support of LGBTQ non-discrimination protections.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Nondiscrimination laws across the country could be in jeopardy – not just for LGBTQ people, but anybody. A ruling against the plaintiffs has the potential to allow businesses to claim a religious exemption in order to refuse service to any group.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Stay tuned to our blog for the latest developments outside the Court and immediately following arguments, and spread the word by sharing online with your friends and family members. You can also follow the FFAA Facebook page, follow us on Twitter @freedom4allusa, and keep up with all of the conversation at #OpenToAll.See Earliest Updates Below
Audio: Supreme Court Oral Argument in 'Masterpiece'
Listen to the full, 90-minute oral argument
On Friday, December 8 the U.S. Supreme Court published the full oral argument recording. Take a listen:
4:45 pm: It's a Wrap
Day ends with support riding high
The day has wrapped at the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece case. Both sides presented 30 minutes of argument and were questioned by Justices throughout; the only Justice not to speak was Clarence Thomas.
The transcript of today’s arguments is available below. Be sure to check back over the next few days to see in-depth coverage of the case, the arguments, and the people involved.
Thank you for keeping with us throughout the day!
4:00pm: Photos from Outside of the Supreme Court
Images from the #OpenToAll Rally
Check out some great photos from outside of the U.S. Supreme Court! See them all here.
1:56 pm: Transcript of Oral Arguments Released
Full remarks available for viewing
Read the complete transcript of today’s Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court case.
12:30 pm: Twitter Roundup: Remarks from the Post-Argument Press Conference
A collection of thoughts and statements from both sides
David Cole, ACLU (for same-sex couple): a legal services organization can’t turn away clients based on their identity pic.twitter.com/NJbwgQqAUS
— Louise Radnofsky (@louiseradnofsky) December 5, 2017
David Mullins recounts interaction with baker Jack Phillips: ‘We told him it was for us… we were mortified.. I cried, Charlie cried’ pic.twitter.com/0kp7jqwPe2
— Louise Radnofsky (@louiseradnofsky) December 5, 2017
Cynthia Coffman, Colorado AG: Solicitor General Fred Yarger did ‘an excellent job.. presenting our best arguments’ pic.twitter.com/TsJKkofRL8
— Louise Radnofsky (@louiseradnofsky) December 5, 2017
Kristen Waggoner, speaking outside the case, smiled broadly when asked if she thought Justice Kennedy was swayed: “Dignity cuts both ways” pic.twitter.com/jzA50JBKnL
— Louise Radnofsky (@louiseradnofsky) December 5, 2017
(Our thanks to @louiseradnofsky for the original posts)
12:01 pm: Small Businesses Against LGBTQ Discrimination Has Launched!
Initiative allows small business owners to publicly declare support of nondiscrimination protections
With the Masterpiece case as a benchmark for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, Freedom For All Americans has recently launched a new initiative: Small Businesses Against LGBTQ Discrimination.
Small business leaders believe that discrimination is wrong. A recent report released by the Small Business Initiative showed that 65% of business owners believe it is wrong to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs, and half of all respondents indicated it was wrong to discriminate based on artistic expression.
This new initiative will allow small business owners to publicly declare their support for nondiscrimination protections by signing our pledge. The polling shows: small business owners know that discrimination is bad for business.
11:25 am: Major Endorsements of Support Nationwide
Newspapers across the country stand in support of nondiscrimination
The case in favor of nondiscrimination laws has been affirmed across the country by major publications. The editorial boards of the New York Times, USA Today, and Denver Post all endorsed the argument that businesses should not be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and should be #OpenToAll.
10:59am: Masterpiece Has Echoes of Previous Supreme Court Cases
Supporters hope similar case rulings will play role in decision
Many people involved in analyzing the Masterpiece case are harkening back to a Supreme Court ruling in the 60’s regarding racial discrimination, saying they see similar echoes in both cases.
In 1964, two black Americans pulled into the Piggie Park Drive-In in Columbia, South Carolina. When the waitress came to take their order, she left when she saw that the customers were black. A civil rights case followed, where the owner of the restaurant, Maurice Bessinger, cited his religious beliefs as reason to turn the customers away, saying that his religion, “…opposed integration of any kind.”
Federal judges dismissed his claims swiftly, claiming he had a right to religious beliefs, but could not enforce them as to ignore the constitutional rights of other people. When the Supreme Court took the case in 1968, their decision was a unanimous 8-0 against Bessinger, saying in the footnotes that the religion argument was “patently frivolous.”
Furthermore, in a 1964 challenge to the Civil Rights Act’s ban on discrimination in public places, Justice Arthur Goldberg wrote, “Discrimination is not about dollars and cents, hamburgers and movies. It is the humiliation, frustration, and embarrassment that a person must surely feel when told he is an unacceptable member of the public.”
It is the hope that the Justices will remember these cases when considering Masterpiece today. Discrimination against one invites discrimination against many, and that is not an American value.
10:15am: Report: Discrimination Causes Physical, Mental Repercussions
Health issues a result of being denied service
Ahead of the Masterpiece case being argued today, the Center for American Progress has submitted an issue brief describing the harms LGBTQ people face when denied service at florists, hotels, bakeries, and other businesses.
“The brief shows how service refusals act like a one-two punch, causing psychological, emotional, and physical harm, as well as making it harder for LGBTQ people to access services at all,” says Caitlin Rooney, the report’s co-author.
Much of the brief contains information from a recent survey of LGBTQ people regarding businesses. 21% of LGBTQ people say it would be very difficult for them to find alternatives if they were refused services; this number rises to 39% for those who live in more rural areas.
Discrimination also has an effect on the physical and mental health of LGBTQ people. According to the report, two-thirds of those surveyed said experiencing discrimination had impacted their psychological well being, while nearly half reported an impact on their physical health.
No one should have to suffer health issues due to being discriminated against. When businesses are open to the public, they are #OpenToAll. Follow us today to get the latest updates outside the court and immediately following the arguments.
9:53am: National Weekend of Prayer Illustrates Support Among People of Faith
Faith leaders across the country join in solidarity for equality and respect
This past weekend, the final one before arguments in the Masterpiece case, over 100 congregations came together in 31 states and the District of Columbia to celebrate the National Weekend of Prayer for LGBTQ Justice, coordinated and led by the Religious Institute.
Throughout the weekend, faith leaders, congregations, and clergy dedicated their sermons and services to LGBTQ nondiscrimination and its importance to all. In Denver, CO, the home of the case, there was an interfaith service among leaders of many denominations, and in North Carolina, a press conference was held with over 30 faith leaders alongside NC Faith Forward, a pro LGBTQ faith organization.
To read the full list of those who participated in National Weekend of Prayer for LGBTQ Justice, click here.
9:30am: Freedom For All Americans CEO Addresses Rally of Supporters Outside of the Supreme Court
Masen Davis speaks about dignity and respect for all people
Newly installed CEO of Freedom For All Americans, Masen Davis, addressed the ongoing rally outside the court shortly as one of many featured speakers. For two years, Davis was a member of the board for the Freedom For All Americans Education Fund; he is also the former Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center.
When asked about the case’s impact on the LGBTQ community, he said, “We need to ask ourselves as Americans, do we want signs up in retail shops detailing who can and cannot be served? This has historically not been our path.”
Masen knows exactly how important it is for nondiscrimination laws to exist to protect LGBTQ people, and that a bad ruling could have effects on everybody, not just LGBTQ people.
“There’s no reason to think that this could not extend to opening the door to discrimination based on someone’s religion, race, or some other factor. We need to watch this case not just for our community but for the basic security of civil rights in this country for all populations.”
9:00 am: The Trump Administration's Involvement Is Unprecedented
Solicitor General to Argue before Justices
The Trump Administration has taken an unprecedented step in trying to combat nondiscrimination laws, by taking time to argue before the Supreme Court on behalf of the defendant in the Masterpiece case. The Justice Department publicly sided with Jack Phillips earlier this year, and now the federal government may end up playing a key role in dismantling laws protecting LGBTQ people.
8:45am: Amicus Briefs Submitted On Behalf of Millions
Diverse voices join together in offering support
While our legal partners make the case for LGBTQ non-discrimination in the Supreme Court today, it’s important to remember that the Justices have already heard from the voices of thousands of Americans. At the end of October, dozens of friend-of-the-court briefs were submitted in favor of LGBTQ protections — here are three that FFAA led outreach efforts on:
- The faith brief included support from nearly 1,300 faith leaders representing over 500,000 congregation members. Among these were 85 leaders of national religious organizations, including the Alliance of Baptists, Muslims for Progressive Values, and Reconstructionist Judaism. The Religious Institute and the National LGBTQ Task Force also contributed to outreach on the brief. Read the brief here.
- The municipal voices brief includes over 70 individual mayors as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing 1,400 cities with populations of over 30,000. Many of these mayors are part of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, a project run by Freedom For All Americans. 102 individual jurisdictions are represented in the brief, making up over 50 million people. The brief is led by the county of Santa Clara, the City of New York, and the City of Los Angeles. Read the brief here.
- A brief featuring the voices of small business owners was also shepherded by Freedom For All Americans, and represents over 61,000 small business owners throughout the country. The brief was brought by Main Street Alliance, the American Independent Business Alliance, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the Seattle Metropolitan Area Chamber of Commerce. Read the brief here.
211 members of Congress filed their own amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Masterpiece case. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney led the brief in the House, and Tammy Baldwin in the Senate. The LGBTQ Equality Caucus led among signers of the brief. Read the brief here.
These briefs are only 4 among the 45 that were submitted on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Masterpiece Case. To see all the submitted briefs, click here
8:37 am: Faith Leaders Gathering Outside the Court
Faith support vital to importance of case
Varieties of faith leaders are gathering outside the court at this hour, showing their support of nondiscrimination laws and their belief that businesses should be #OpenToAll
8:25 am: Couple at Rally Say They Won't Go Back
Attending rally outside SCOTUS to show support
Stephanie Jones and Alina Iwanski have traveled from Clermont, Florida in order to attend today’s rally of support outside the Supreme Court while oral arguments are held inside. Stephanie (left) says she has been refused service before, and does not want to go back on progress that has been made so far regarding nondiscrimination.
8:22 am: Shoreline Mayor Chris Roberts Writes Supportive Op-Ed in Seattle Times
Roberts cites WA state’s nondiscrimination protections
Chris Roberts, the Mayor of Shoreline, WA, was featured in an op-ed published in Monday’s Seattle Times supporting the plaintiffs in the Masterpiece case. Mayor Roberts cited his state’s passage of nondiscrimination laws in 2006, and how the people of Washington have made loud and clear that discrimination is wrong, and that businesses are not exempt from nondiscrimination laws: “When a business opens its doors to the public, it must serve everyone equally. Freedom of religion is a critical part of the Constitution, but it does not give anyone a license to discriminate.” Mayor Roberts is a signer on the earlier mentioned municipal brief urging the court to vote in favor of the plaintiffs.
8:05am: Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Call Sign Statement Supporting Same-Sex Couple in Masterpiece
25+ Mayors signed the new statement this week
We know how high the stakes are in the Masterpiece case: An adverse ruling could undermine existing local and state non-discrimination protections, and mayors across the country know that this could lead to serious harm among their LGBTQ residents. That’s why mayors have been an active force in the Masterpiece case and now the #OpenToAll effort.
Today 27 mayors from across the country are uniting to show their support for nondiscrimination measures via Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination. The mayors issued the following joint statement:
“As mayors of cities large and small, we hold a special responsibility to protect our residents and ensure their equal participation in public life. Discrimination, whatever the cause, serves no purpose but to divide our communities and we cannot allow our public square to become a place of fear, especially for marginalized communities like our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents. We affirm the right of all people to be treated with respect and served on equal terms. Equality for our LGBTQ residents does not reduce our freedom of speech nor our religious expression – it enhances it.”
7:40am: #OpenToAll Effort Brings Together Organizations, Faith Communities, Civil Rights Groups, Public Figures, and Celebrities
Online show of support for LGBTQ non-discrimination educates millions online
A crowd is already beginning to gather outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, and everyone has the same message: Businesses open to the public must be #OpenToAll. The message is at the heart of a new public engagement campaign that Freedom for All Americans is proud to be a part of. Concerned about the potential for erosion of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the possible dismantling of state laws providing protections for LGBTQ people through the Masterpiece case, more than 75 organizations nationwide have banded together to create the #OpenToAll campaign. We’re proud to have played a role this year in soliciting support from a large variety of business and faith voices, among others. The campaign seeks to build awareness and understanding regarding the Masterpiece case, and to spread the message that businesses open to the public should be open to everyone.
The Movement Advancement Project developed two video ads as part of the campaign, which can be viewed here. Freedom for All Americans also created a video for #OpenToAll, narrated by Emmy Award winner Montel Williams.
7:35am Video Details the Potential Harms of Masterpiece Decision
Animated video features narration from Montel Williams
This week Freedom for All Americans debuted a new video as one component of the #OpenToAll campaign, extrapolating the stakes of a possibly adverse ruling to businesses beyond a bakery, and reaffirming some of the best points about anti-LGBTQ religious exemptions from laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. The video features narration by Montel Williams, an Emmy-winning talk show host and U.S. military veteran. In the past three days the video has already been seen by more than 50,000 people. The piece was animated by Paris London Glickman. Take a look!
7:23am: Welcome to the Freedom for All Americans #OpenToAll Live Blog
Live updates, photos, and more coming to you all day
Today, arguments will be made concerning the rights of business owners to use religious exemptions to refuse service to LGBTQ people. Arguments are scheduled to begin around 1:00pm. Meanwhile, a rally outside the Court will be occurring from 8:00am to 12:00pm. Check here throughout the day for updates and any breaking news.