Ashford University Freedom of

The issue of freedom of speech can be relevant in a business setting
and an example of this is evident in a U. S. Supreme Court decision
issued in June, 2018. This case raises questions about whether a person
or company can refuse to provide goods and services to certain
individuals on the basis that the refusal is an exercise of their
religious beliefs that are protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the
First Amendment.

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. is a Colorado bakery
owned and operated by Jack Phillips. A same sex couple went to his store
and tried to order a cake for their wedding celebration. Phillips told
them that he would not sell them a wedding cake because of his religious
opposition to same sex marriages, but that he would sell them other
baked goods. The couple filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights
Commission and asserted that Phillips violated the Colorado
Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based upon
sexual orientation in a place of business engaged in any sales to the
public. Phillips defended himself on the basis of the First Amendment
because requiring him to create a cake for a same sex wedding would
violate his right to free speech by compelling him to exercise his
artistic talents to express a message that would violate his right to
the free exercise of his religion. The Commission found that Phillips
had violated the statute, and the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed.
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed and held that the Commissions’ actions
in enforcing the statute violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First

The Supreme Court case citation is Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, USSC, No. 16-111 (June 4, 2018), and you can find on the Supreme Court website at for the court year 2017.

Please answer the following questions.

  1. Explain
    the difference between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise
    Clause of the First Amendment with respect to freedom of religion.
  2. The
    procedure of this case was an administrative hearing before a Colorado
    State Administrative Law Judge, whose decision was affirmed by the
    Colorado Civil Rights Commission, whose decision was affirmed by the
    Colorado Court of Appeals. The Colorado Supreme Court (the highest state
    court in Colorado) declined to hear the case. Phillips than sought
    review by the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted certiorari and agreed to
    review the case. What right did the U.S. Supreme Court (a federal
    court) have to hear this case arising out of an interpretation of a
    state statute?
  3. Do you believe that there is any significance to
    the fact that freedom of speech (including freedom of religion) in
    contained in the First Amendment of the ten amendments in the Bill of
    Rights? Do you believe that issues relating to freedom of speech should
    be given greater deference than other protected rights?
  4. Do you
    believe that the decision would have been different if the person in
    Phillips’ position claimed that his or her religious beliefs did not
    permit him or her to provide goods or services to any person who does
    not speak English instead of to persons who are entering a same sex
    marriage? Please explain your answer.

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