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Supreme Court Vacates Ruling Against Oregon Bakers Who Refused Lesbian Wedding Cake

Supreme Court Vacates Ruling Against Oregon Bakers Who Refused Lesbian Wedding Cake

Sent the case back to a lower court “for further consideration in light of” SCOTUS Colorado decision

Melissa and Aaron Klein, the Christian owners of a bakery in Oregon called “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” were thrown into a legal and media maelstrom several years ago when they declined to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.

They were ultimately ordered to pay over $100,000 to the couple and closed the bakery as a result.

The U.S. Supreme Court just threw out the ruling against them.

Ronn Blitzer reports at FOX News:

Supreme Court tosses ruling against bakers who refused cake for gay couple

The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a ruling against two Oregon bakers who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

The couple, Melissa and Aaron Klein, cited religious beliefs as their reason for not providing services for a gay wedding. This touched off the latest in a series of such cases making headlines in recent years. During the court’s last term, justices ruled in favor of a Colorado baker in a similar situation, stating that a state body demonstrated improper hostility toward the baker’s religion in finding that he violated a state anti-discrimination law.

On Monday, the Supreme Court sent the Klein case back down to a lower court “for further consideration in light of” their Colorado decision.

The central disputes in the case — which pits LGBT rights against religious freedom considerations — have yet to be addressed by the Supreme Court.

The group representing them sees this as a win:

“This is a victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty for all Americans,” First Liberty president Kelly Shackelford said in a statement. “The Constitution protects speech, popular or not, from condemnation by the government. The message from the Court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated.”

Here’s an image of the order:

As we recently reported, Masterpiece Cake Shop in Colorado is now being sued for a third time.

Paul Bois of the Daily Wire explains where the Oregon case goes from here:

Going forward, a lower court will now determine if the Kleins were indeed subject to unfair hostility when the state of Oregon ordered them to pay a hefty $135,000 fine for allegedly discriminating against a lesbian couple that wanted them to bake a cake for their wedding. If a similar case out of Washington provides any indication, the lower court might rule that the Kleins were treated impartially by the Oregon justice system, forcing the couple to continue fighting for a definitive ruling by the Supreme Court.

Featured image via YouTube.


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So where do the Kleins go to get their lives back? According to This article, not only did they have to close the store and pay a fine, but their house was broken into and their cars were vandalized.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to snopercod. | June 18, 2019 at 8:38 am

    Is there any cause for action they can bring against those suing them, to make Aaron and Melissa Klein whole?

      If and only if it turns out that Oregon’s action was motivated by religious animus, and they can prove it, then they might have a civil rights case. But so far no evidence is known for this. If there was no religious animus then not only would they have no case, Oregon can continue the case against them and they might still lose. The Supreme Court did not say they were right.

    Albigensian in reply to snopercod. | June 18, 2019 at 9:42 am

    “The group representing them sees this as a win.” And so said Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, said after the Pyrrhic War.

    Sometimes the process is the punishment. These rulings, while better than nothing, seem to do little to stop any well-funded organization from continuing to punish those who refuse to express things these bakers, et al, disagree with.

    Is it asking too much for a ruling that declares all such attempts to force “acceptable” speech from citizens as violations of their rights under the First Amendment?

    Milhouse in reply to snopercod. | June 18, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Get their lives back?! So far they still haven’t established that they’re not in the wrong. The Supreme Court didn’t agree with them, it told Oregon to go away and think about why it’s so upset at them, and only come back if it can assure the court that the prosecution is not improperly motivated. Only if it does that will the Court consider the actual arguments.

    Paul In Sweden in reply to snopercod. | June 18, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I am wondering how things would go for the Knights of Columbus in Berkley, California dealing with local artists for the commission of a statue of Columbus? What about a fringe group that parades around in traditional Democrat Party white hoods and sheets ordering hand painted placards from an artists collective in Harlem?

    As there are no religious issues how would compulsion of service and the law work?

    I would not want to be compelled to do work for a Planned Parenthood Abortion Mill because I recognize this as murder aside from any religious belief I may or may not have. Should I be able to refuse to do business with Planned Parenthood just as multiple banks and financial institutions are allowed to terminate and refuse the business of those in the Firearms Industry?

      Milhouse in reply to Paul In Sweden. | June 18, 2019 at 4:11 pm

      Again, this isn’t about religion, it’s about freedom of speech. Religion is merely why the plaintiffs don’t want to say what they’re being asked to.

      Even if the bakers lose this case, and the Court rules custom art is not protected speech, an artist could still turnd down a commission for a Columbus statue, because it wouldn’t be on a prohibited ground. Even if it was the Knights of Columbus ordering it, the artist would not be refusing because of their religion, so she’d be within her rights. Ditto for your refusing work for Planned Parenthood; you’re not doing it because of PP’s race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age after 40, or (in those places where such discrimination is illegal) because of its sexual orientation, so you’re free to turn them down. But if it was, e.g., the NAACP, they might claim you only turned them down because they’re black, and you’d have to fight that claim.

        Paul In Sweden in reply to Milhouse. | June 18, 2019 at 6:18 pm

        OK Milhouse, that is a good answer. I understand that the bakers are using the free speech right. I would like to understand if there are other ways to remedy these cases.

        Could I as a baker refuse service for a same sex wedding because it was anti-family? Or any of the other secular objections or do we still get stuck on homosexuals being a protected class?

        What if we do as Antifundamentalist contemplates and just refuse service without providing a reason? Wouldn’t there still be a lawsuit because an assumption would be made of bias of a protected class?

          Milhouse in reply to Paul In Sweden. | June 18, 2019 at 8:02 pm

          There’s no such thing as a “protected class”. The underlying issue here is the conflation of objections to same-sex marriage with bias against homosexuals. They’re two very different things, but that’s not how the other side sees it.

          From the point of view of those pushing this thing, opposition to same-sex marriage is “homophobia” and discrimination against homosexuals. There’s no difference, they claim. That’s what underlies the Supreme Court’s peculiar decision in Obergefell. (And really it goes back to Loving v Virginia, when the Supreme Court decided that banning mixed-race marriage is the same thing as discrimination on the grounds of race.)

          So people who refuse to sell products, or rent their premises, for a same-sex wedding are charged as if they had refused the business simply because the customers are gay. And so far the courts have been buying this nonsense as if it were hot cakes. The interesting case will come when someone in a state with a RFRA challenges it on those grounds. We’ll see what happens then.

          Paul In Sweden in reply to Paul In Sweden. | June 19, 2019 at 10:06 am

          Milhouse, Yes, you are right when you explain that “There’s no such thing as a ‘protected class'”, you are also right with regards to “conflation of objections” which pretty much explains how in reality this “conflation of objections” creates Protected Classes in practice, in prosecutions and in public/media perception.

          What I am getting at is that there are valid objections to providing a service that would facilitate or condone activities such as marriage or child adoption which we understand or believe will likely produce negative outcomes upon society or upon children to people that by coincidence may or may not happen to be same sex without implicitly stating the objection is homosexuality. It just seems difficult and this is the thrust of this dialog.

          We would not endorse the marriage of child brides today, same-sex or otherwise. We would not endorse a marriage where one or more of the spouses is criminal or drug addicted same-sex or otherwise. The same goes for violent and abusive suitors same-sex or otherwise – [email protected]. The extreme political, social and economic threats and pressures inflicted on committee and board members of the American Psychiatric Association(and their counterparts internationally) caused them to re-classify homosexuality & transgenderism as well as the headline text within the DSM-IV and DSM-5. It is also recognized that while the classifications and headlines have been forced to be changed, none of the maladies and negative consequences or predictable outcomes have changed. Rates for suicide, depression, domestic violence and all the other maladies known to be related to homosexuality & transgenderism have not changed due to the reclassification in Psychiatric Texts. That matters, call it what you want but it is still just lipstick on a pig.

          This matters because empirical studies on family & childhood outcomes reflect poorly or substantially poorly when couples that just happen to be same-sex are compared to biological mother & biological father homes or even just mother & father homes. These should be valid objections to refusing service which facilitate or condone activities such as marriage or child adoption which we understand or believe will produce negative outcomes upon society or upon children. There must be a way to present these negative outcomes that would overcome the “conflation of objections”. That is the heart of the matter.

          It however seems that it requires a contortionist to state the obvious known likely negative outcomes without also stating same-sex marriage or the “conflation of objections” coming up. I appreciate your input, realizing that this dialog does not relate to this specific case and wonder if I could be pointed at sources/forums that discuss this topic in greater detail? I have already located some sources for OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES & Loving v Virginia that you have cited and will read them. However, I do welcome your further discussion.

          Milhouse in reply to Paul In Sweden. | June 20, 2019 at 12:37 am

          Here’s an example that should set it out starkly: Until very recently it was widely believed, at least in the USA, that it is wrong for white people and black people to marry each other. Some states had laws against it, but even in the other states most people believed it. Now it is trivially easy to prove that this objection was, at least in many cases, not motivated by hatred or disdain for black people: the fact that it was at least as common among black people as among white ones should be enough to dismiss that idea. In fact, my understanding is that while this peculiar belief seems to have almost disappeared among white Americans, it continues among a significant proportion of black Americans. Whatever reason black people have for objecting to mixed-race marriage, it isn’t that they look down on black people. Nor is it likely that their motive is that they look down on white people. They like and respect people of both races, they just believe that they don’t belong together. I don’t know why, but that’s how it is. Now suppose someone who thinks this way is asked to provide some service to facilitate a mixed-race wedding, whether it’s to print invitations, arrange flowers, rent chairs or a venue, or whatever. Their refusal is motivated by conscience, not racism. But you can bet that the aggrieved would-be customers will insist that such a belief is inherently racist, and they’ll point to Loving to back them up. And the government will take the same attitude, as will many judges. It’s wrong, but some people are either too dumb to get it, or dishonest enough to pretend not to get it.

          Paul In Sweden in reply to Paul In Sweden. | June 20, 2019 at 2:14 am

          Alright,I am understanding that there is no clear remedy in the current court climate. It sounds like only a legislative solution would solve this and that seems unlikely in today’s social and political climate. hmmm…

          Milhouse, What if we turned things around and stole from the original by arguing that the state would be interfering with the vendor’s pursuit of happiness if he were obligated to participate in actions that he reasonably believes would likely have negative outcomes? This can be backed up statistically with regards to non-nuclear families.

Either way it jumps, the American court system will bankrupt them.

stevewhitemd | June 18, 2019 at 7:40 am

The Washington state case is a worry. There the Washington state Supreme Court essentially said to the USSC, “Who, us? Biased? Nah, not us!” and reinstated the lower court ruling against the florist.

Given that the USSC decided the Masterpiece Bakery case on very narrow grounds, I worry that there are not five votes to support the idea that the state should not be dictating religious beliefs to its citizens.

It worries me that this utterly weak opinion issued by the Court in Masterpiece Cake Shop – – essentially, tha anti-religious animus must be shown on the part of the government officials, in order for a devout person to successfully defend against these ridiculous “discrimination” claims – – now allows the lower courts sufficient “wiggle room” to say, “Hey, as long as the devout person(s) are treated respectfully by the government board and don’t have their religious beliefs mocked or vilified, they have no grounds to prevail on asserting an infringement of free exercise of religious practice.

We need a substantive and full-throated defense of religious liverty from SCOTUS, not this equivocal, parsing, utterly weak-kneed crap they’ve been handing down.

Interestingly, the SCOTUS rulings are based upon defining Cake Baking as being an ARTISTIC Endevor. And, you cannot force an Artist to create something against his will.

If you walked into the bakery and ordered something pre-baked, it would be illegal to refuse to sell that to someone who was gay.

    Milhouse in reply to MattMusson. | June 18, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Interestingly, the SCOTUS rulings are based upon defining Cake Baking as being an ARTISTIC Endevor. And, you cannot force an Artist to create something against his will.

    No, they’re not. That was the ruling Jack Phillips wanted and argued for, but he didn’t get it, because the Court said we don’t need to decide that yet; you win because you shouldn’t have been prosecuted in the first place, so we don’t need to decide whether you’re actually right. Then in this case it told Oregon, before we decide whether the bakers’ argument is right, make sure you aren’t making the same mistake Colorado did. If you come back and assure us you aren’t, then (maybe) we’ll consider the actual question.

    If you walked into the bakery and ordered something pre-baked, it would be illegal to refuse to sell that to someone who was gay.

    Of course. (In places where that’s illegal, such as Colorado and Oregon.) Nobody ever disputed that, and neither Phillips nor the Kleins say they have a problem with it.

    That’s why this case isn’t about the free exercise of religion, but about the freedom of speech. If someone were to claim that their conscience wouldn’t let them sell even a pre-made wedding cake if they knew it was intended for a same-sex wedding, that would be a more interesting case. In a state with no RFRA, it would be an automatic loser, and no federal case would be possible because there’s no federal law against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, but in a state with a RFRA it would be a close decision. (Or there could be a federal case, if someone claimed his conscience wouldn’t let him sell something for a mixed-race wedding; since there is a federal RFRA, does it override the civil rights laws or not?)

At War With HOA | June 18, 2019 at 8:34 am

Do people not realize the folly of going to war with food service professionals? Do they want spit, or whatever else in their food? Not saying that a good person would necessarily do that, but it happens all the time in the food services industry. Worked in a restaurant for a few years.

    tom_swift in reply to At War With HOA. | June 18, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Since these weddings will have receded into the distant past by the time the courts accomplish anything, and the celebrants will doubtless have made other arrangements for the event’s baked goods, the continuing farrago is all to “make a point” rather than to get a goddamn cake. So, what’s actually in the cake, noxious or not, is irrelevant.

    Exiliado in reply to At War With HOA. | June 19, 2019 at 7:36 am

    They don’t want a cake.

The left is insane, I have always been for live and let live up to the point of insanity
We are at insanity and I find myself being less supportive of them everyday
Leave people alone, leave kids alone

    tom_swift in reply to gonzotx. | June 18, 2019 at 11:50 am

    The insane left doesn’t bother me. They have a right to be as insane as they want to be. The disaster is the way the American legal system gives the insane left real teeth. That’s where the damage occurs.

I think we make a mistake when we give them a reason to decline their business. You are not obligated…

2nd. This goes to the heart of lawful discrimination in private enterprise. This is another example of gross socialism in the US where the government can compel two people to do business together. Government cannot discriminate because they have no competition within their jurisdiction. It is our right to discern, choose, be discriminating who we will conduct business with. We can, because we have competition.

In construction, if q contractor doesn’t want or can’t get to your project, they rarely ever say so. They just way over price their estimate. If you REALLY INSIST on that contractor, then you’ll pay him an exorbitant cost for the priviledge.

If the lezbo’s in the Oregon case were so humiliated and distraught over being told no, then they should have waited to get “married” until the court case was completely settled. Since they are now married, their case shouldn’t have even been heard.

Reality is this is just punishment for failing to go along with the sexual disfunction mob.

Did the couplet order a cake or an endorsement?

    CorkyAgain in reply to n.n. | June 18, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    The baker’s argument is that being asked to design a custom cake was tantamount to being asked for an endorsement.

The Wa case is scary because it is two branches of government. The libs have a weak hold on the legislature, so often this stuff doesn’t get far there.

From what I understand, the cake shop is not being sued for refusing to *bake* a cake for nitwits suing them. The couple has stated quite plainly that it is more than happy to produce as many baked goods as the customers want. It is being sued for refusing to *decorate* the cake the way the customer wanted, an artistic effort.

With that in mind, I don’t understand why this and similar cases are not ruled 9-0 on the side of the artist. If I go to a Leftist sculptor and order a bronze statue of Trump in a boxing outfit like Rocky, or to a Leftist painter for a painting of Hillary melting under a bucket of water like the Wicked Witch, I’m 100% going to get rebuffed (or the product delivered will be atrocious, etc…)

    Milhouse in reply to georgfelis. | June 18, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    You are correct, but the allegation is that:

    (1) the reason they refuse to decorate the cake is either (a) not because they oppose same-sex marriage but because they hate gay people, or alternatively (b) there is no distinction between the two — opposition to same-sex marriage is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, since only gay people want to marry members of the same sex.

    (2) decorating a cake to a customer’s order is not expressive conduct, and is therefore not protected by the first amendment.

    Argument (2) would work just as well in your hypotheticals, but in those cases the question wouldn’t arise since the discrimination you’d be alleging wouldn’t be on a prohibited ground.

The central disputes in the case — which pits LGBT rights against religious freedom considerations — have yet to be addressed by the Supreme Court.

The issue isn’t going away. Eventually the Court is going to have to stop dodging and come to grips with it.

Antifundamentalist | June 18, 2019 at 2:54 pm

I have mentioned this before, and it seems odd to me that these cases are all argued on religious grounds. That is one aspect, yes, but at the heart of it, is this: it is unreasonable to expect a person or business to accept every job that is offered to them. There are myriad reasons someone could turn down a contract. Maybe they already have commitments, maybe they are understaffed for that date, maybe the client is asking for something beyond the capability of the business, maybe the client looks vaguely like the Uncle that molested them as a child…who knows & why does it matter? The point is that “I said No” should be enough. The reasoning behind that NO shouldn’t even be brought into the public arena. It’s a matter of the 13th Amendment, not the First.

    The cases aren’t being argued on religious grounds, they’re being argued on free speech grounds. Religion is merely the reason why the plaintiffs object to the job.

    As for your claim that these cases shouldn’t even begin because all anti-discrimination laws amount to slavery, unfortunately the law disagrees with your position. It is firmly established law (and the current SCOTUS would probably reject a challenge 9-0) that if you’re doing business with the public you don’t have to accept every job that is offered, but your reason for turning a job down must not be one that is prohibited by law. If it is, you can be compelled to accept the job. Here the questions before the court are: (1) Was the reason the bakers refused this job in fact prohibited (by state or local law); and (2) if so, does the freedom of speech override that law.

      stl in reply to Milhouse. | June 18, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      I agree with your reply, but why give a reason at all? In many instances, they prospective client is never told why you declined to perform your service or provide a product to them. I also get that the courts will rule all day long against you on the grounds of public accommodation (the base issue with the Oregon case), but the person you are replying to is correct, thats not the way it should be here. Government has no business beingninvolved in these contracts at all. This is another facet of socialism, over regulation which is the real heart of this matter. Should have never gotten to the religious or even free speech argument.

      Antifundamentalist in reply to Milhouse. | June 18, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      So. Basically, when you say no, just don’t give a reason. They can speculate six ways to Sunday, but if you never specify then there is no case?

        If you don’t give a reason they can claim your real reason is that they are lesbian, which would be illegal. They’d depose you to find instances of your having expressed anti-gay opinions, and use that to convince a jury that this was your reason to refuse them.

This is just another slip down that very slippery slope. If the government can force you to buy medical insurance or pay a fine, then they can force you to create a cake or other artistic expression. As absurd as is sounds, at the bottom of this slope the government will be telling us when and how to wipe our buts……

    Milhouse in reply to starride. | June 18, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    The government can’t force you to buy medical insurance or pay a fine. The Supreme Court was clear about that. It can tax your income if you don’t buy insurance, but it can’t just call it a tax, it has to actually look and behave like a tax and not a fine. For instance if it was so high as to be punitive, it would be a fine, and thus unconstitutional.