Alumna Chizobam Nwagwu ’18 (neuroscience/policy studies) is currently serving in the inaugural cohort of U.S. Digital Corps (USDC) Fellows. The U.S. Digital Corps launched last year to recruit early-career technologists to work on priority projects in five skill tracks: software…
SCOTUS Cake Case Straddled Two First Amendment Clauses – Decision Focused on One
In a 7-2 decision today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple on grounds that it went against his religion.
Associate professor Roy Gutterman is director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and an expert on communications law and the First Amendment.
“The court more or less expanded the rights under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to deny services based on religious beliefs. The underlying government action in this case was viewed as the government disparaging on the baker’s religious views.
“This case, the court acknowledged straddles the line between two separate clauses under the First Amendment, both speech, because these artistic cakes represent a form of artistic expression and religious beliefs because the baker’s religious viewpoints object to gay marriage.
“The court’s decision focuses on religion, rather than expression. The decision reflects the conservative bent on the court, though two liberal justices (Karan and Breyer) joined with the majority.
“One of the phrases that Justice Kennedy’s opinion notes is the government must be ‘neutral and respectful’ of all religions. This is a valuable take away, but it means all religions. The court’s other note of caution here is seeing how these rules may play out in future or similar cases, which is always a challenge.”
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