SCOTUS Reverses Oregon’s Decision to Punish Bakers

Jun 17, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a victory for Sweet Cakes Bakery and Melissa and Aaron Klein, today the U.S. Supreme Court sent their case back to the Oregon Court of Appeals in light of the June 2018 decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.  

Sweet Cakes by Melissa, v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries involves bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, who paid a $135,000 judgment to a same-sex couple for declining to create a cake for them in 2013. The Kleins were forced to shut down their bakery in the city of Gresham because of the conflict over their religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court’s brief order directs the Oregon Court of Appeals to consider its 2018 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Last year the Supreme Court ruled that government decision makers must not be hostile to religion when deciding free exercise of religion claims. The Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the neutrality required by the First Amendment by making disparaging comments against Jack Phillips’ religious beliefs regarding same-sex “marriage.” 

In the case of the Kleins, similar negative comments were also made about their Christian faith. Today, the Supreme Court granted the Kleins’ petition, vacated the judgment, and sent the case back to the Court of Appeals directing that the judges apply the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. The petition was filed by former ambassador to the European Union, C. Boyden Gray and Adam Gustafson, of Boyden Gray & Associates, part of First Liberty’s network of attorneys.

“This is a great victory for the Kleins and for religious freedom,” said Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “It seems clear that the Supreme Court has all but directed the Oregon Court of Appeals to dismiss the charge against Aaron and Melissa Klein by applying the Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion. The broader message is the government cannot be hostile toward Christian faith and values,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. Liberty Counsel provides broadcast quality TV interviews via Hi-Def Skype and LTN at no cost.

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