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

December 5, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

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

Commentingon the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz ofLouisville, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop CharlesJ. 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 ofthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the followingjoint statement:

"Today'soral arguments address whether our Constitution's guarantees of free speech andfreedom of religion will be protected by the Supreme Court. Americans of everycreed depend on these guarantees of freedom from unnecessary governmentcoercion.  Americahas the ability to serve every person while making room for valid conscientiousobjection. We pray that the Court will continue to preserve the abilityof people to live out their faith in daily life, regardless of theiroccupation. Artists in particular deserve to have the freedom to expressideas—or to decline to create certain messages—in accordance with their deeplyheld beliefs. Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged in the Obergefell decisionin 2015 that people who oppose same-sex marriage 'reach that conclusion basedon decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.' Creativeprofessionals should be allowed to use their artistic talents in line withthese decent and honorable convictions."

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

TheUSCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting MasterpieceCakeshop, 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, ArchbishopCharles Chaput, Bishop James Conley, Supreme Court, religious freedom,religious liberty, freedom of conscience, marriage

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