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Are Roberts’s Fears On Reach of Cakeshop Case Valid? Perhaps

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. pressed counsel about the implications of a win for the gay Colorado couple at the heart of one of the most contentious cases of the term, Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Would it lead to religious charities being forced to provide legal aid for same-sex couples getting married? he asked Colorado’s attorney during oral argument Dec. 5.

Masterpiece Cakeshop itself is a far cry from that hypothetical. In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins were turned away by baker Jack Phillips, who owns a bakery but refused to make them a wedding cake because he has religious objections to same-sex marriage.

Phillips says he can’t be forced to support a ceremony that goes against his religious beliefs. Craig and Mullins say Colorado’s anti-discrimination law prohibits the bakery from discriminating against them because of their sexual orientation.

But a win for the couple could have far reaching implications, perhaps eventually for religious charities, Roberts suggested during oral argument.
Though Roberts seemed unsatisfied with the “it depends” response that he got from Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yarger, that’s actually the right answer, Colorado civil rights lawyers told Bloomberg Law.

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