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USCCB Chairmen Comment on Supreme Court’s Oral Arguments on Religious Freedom of Creative Professionals

 
December 5, 2017

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a Christian baker named Jack Phillips who declined in 2012 to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. State officials seek to compel Phillips to create such cakes under Colorado's public accommodations law.  Phillips argues that the state's action against him and his bakery violates the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following joint statement:

"Today's oral arguments address whether our Constitution's guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion will be protected by the Supreme Court. Americans of every creed depend on these guarantees of freedom from unnecessary government coercion.  America has the ability to serve every person while making room for valid conscientious objection. We pray that the Court will continue to preserve the ability of people to live out their faith in daily life, regardless of their occupation. Artists in particular deserve to have the freedom to express ideas—or to decline to create certain messages—in accordance with their deeply held beliefs. Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged in the Obergefell decision in 2015 that people who oppose same-sex marriage 'reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.' Creative professionals should be allowed to use their artistic talents in line with these decent and honorable convictions."

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting Masterpiece Cakeshop, which can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/16-111-tsac-USCCB.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Bishop James Conley, Supreme Court, religious freedom, religious liberty, freedom of conscience, marriage

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