READ: Oral Arguments of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

READ: Oral Arguments of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

READ: Oral Arguments of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

It should be a cakewalk for civil rights activists, but the Supreme Court, being the Supreme Court, is ensuring that the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is anything but as it begins to hear arguments on one of the most important government civil rights decisions up for debate this year.

David Cole, an attorney for Mullins, a 33-year-old poet and musician, and Craig, a 37-year-old interior designer, said he respected the sincerity of Phillips' convictions.

Phillips, 61, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, is fighting for the rights of "creative artists" to choose what they will sell.

Colorado law prohibits businesses like Masterpiece from discriminating based on a range of characteristics, including race, sex, nationality, religion and sexual orientation.

Supporters of both sides gathered outside the court and inside the crowded chamber as lawyers presented their arguments to the nine Supreme Court justices during a 90-minute hearing.

The argument is the first involving gay rights since the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states could not prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

A Colorado Law professor says the Supreme Court's decision could have broad implications for anti-discrimination laws across the nation.

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Streak forward to 2012, when same-sex marriage was not yet lawful in Colorado, but rather two men strolled into the bread kitchen.

Phillips then took his case to the Supreme Court and the justices agreed to take it up after mulling it for several weeks.

Phillips' arguments also run directly contrary to well established principals and decisions from the Supreme Court.

Early in a riveting argument at the high court Tuesday, Kennedy anxious that a ruling for baker Jack Phillips might allow stores to post signs that they "do not bake cakes for gay weddings". Liberty and equality are mutually reinforcing values, and both are weakened when they are placed at odds.

"When a business opens its doors to the public, it must serve the public", a spokesperson said. While she argued that the free exercise clause forbids the commission from targeting Phillips "and like-minded believers for punishment", she reserved the bulk of her brief for the free speech clause, perhaps targeting Kennedy, who has at times shown an expansive view of free speech. They will urge the court to embrace their interpretation of religious liberty principles, insisting that if they don't win, the rights of people of faith will be in serious jeopardy.

The court noted that agency's analysis (which it reversed) - which asks whether the message was discriminatory - would lead to "absurd" results: for example, "a man who requests t-shirts stating, 'I support equal treatment for women, ' could complain of gender discrimination if HOO refused to print the t-shirts because it disagreed with that message". When Amish, Jewish, Seventh-Day Adventist, Native American, Sikh and Muslim people of faith have sought protection, the court has recognized their constitutional right to practice their religion without government-imposed burdens or discrimination. Texas' 14th Court of Appeals said the ruling ended Pidgeon and Hicks' case and the city was allowed to offer spousal benefits to same-sex couples.

The first question taken up by the court was whether a cake can be considered artistic expression. "A custom wedding cake is not an ordinary baked good; its function is more communicative and artistic than utilitarian", Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued. The baker is arguing for an exception from the anti-discrimination law. That signaled a potential compromise in the case - sending it back to Colorado courts to decide whether Phillips was treated unfairly. "It can't discriminate against certain members of the public, and that's what happened in this case".

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