Supreme Court is asked to rule Oregon bakers had a right to refuse to make cake for same-sex wedding

U.S. Supreme Court

The former owners of an Oregon bakery are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to accept their appeal and decide that they had a First Amendment right to refuse to bake a custom cake for a same-sex wedding.

The Oct. 19 cert petition filed on behalf of Melissa and Aaron Klein says they refused to bake the cake because of their religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, report SCOTUSblog and the Oregonian. The Kleins are represented by the First Liberty Institute, which posted a press release and a case summary.

The decision could resolve a broader question that the Supreme Court didn’t settle in its Masterpiece Cakeshop decision involving a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The narrow decision, issued in June, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated baker Jack Phillips’ free exercise rights because it showed hostility to his religious claims.

SCOTUSblog explains the unresolved question: “When can sincerely held religious beliefs like Phillips’ trump neutral laws that apply to everyone?”

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found that the Kleins had violated the state’s public accommodations law and ordered them to pay $135,000 in compensatory damages in 2015. Their suburban Portland business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, has closed.

“The State of Oregon drove Melissa and Aaron Klein out of the custom-cake business and hit them with a $135,000 penalty because the Kleins could not in good conscience employ their artistic talents to express a message celebrating a same-sex wedding ritual,” the cert petition says.

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The Oregonian said the Kleins are “figureheads for the religious liberty movement,” and crowdfunding has raised more than $500,000 for them.

The case is Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

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