The country's top court on Monday said it will hear an appeal involving a Christian baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the closely-watched case, which pits the religious beliefs of small business owners against the civil rights of gay Americans, on the last day of the court's current term. The case will likely be scheduled for this fall.
The appeal involves Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who tried to order a cake for their upcoming reception from Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood Colorado. The owner, Jack Phillips, told them he would be happy to sell them other baked goods, but would not prepare a wedding cake because doing so would conflict with his beliefs against same-sex marriage.
After hearing about Phillips's refusal, another bakery provided Craig and Mullins with a rainbow-adorned cake brief of charge, but the couple decided to file a complaint with Colorado's Civil Rights Commission. The commission decided to bring a discrimination case against the bakery, and the state's top court upheld that decision.
In taking the case, the Supreme Court will also have to weigh the First Amendment claims of Phillips, who argues that he is not a baker but an artist, who should have have to express himself against his will. The couple will counter this by arguing that it did not demand Phillips inscribe any specific message, but rather to supply a cake.
According to Roger Parloff at the New Yorker, which has a helpful rundown of the case, legal experts are unsure of how the Supreme Court will rule.
The decision to hear the wedding case comes at a time when support for gay marriage is surging. A new poll reports that two-thirds of Americans support it and that, for the first time, a majority of Republicans don't oppose same-sex marriage.