One of the biggest free speech and religious liberty cases in decades, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States on December 5. On December 6, Cross & Gavel host Mike Schutt recorded this conversation with religious liberty attorney Kim Colby, who sat in on the argument. Kim gives a short background of the case, shares her observations, and discusses the important issues raised by the attorneys and justices.
Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, did not deny service to homosexuals, as is sometimes reported. Jack served anyone who came into his shop to buy his ready-made cakes and cookies. Yet when he was asked to use his artistic talents to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony, he politely declined. Jack declines to bake custom cakes for Halloween celebrations or divorce parties as well. He simply does not provide his artistic voice in support of things with which he fundamentally disagrees.
Is this unlawful discrimination, or is this his right as a shop owner with religious convictions?
Listen to Kim and Mike discuss the issues and the interesting questions asked by the justices during oral argument.
Read the transcript of the argument here.
Kim Colby is the director of Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom , where she has worked since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1981. She has represented religious groups in several appellate cases, including two cases heard by the United States Supreme Court. She has filed numerous amicus briefs in federal and state courts. In 1984, she assisted in congressional passage of the Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. § 4071, et seq., which protects the right of secondary school students to meet for prayer and Bible study on campus. Ms. Colby has prepared several CLS publications addressing issues about religious expression in public schools, including released time programs, implementation of the Equal Access Act, and teachers’ religious expression.
Kim graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois with a major in American History and a particular interest in slavery in colonial North America.
Kim Colby, Director of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, is Mike Schutt's guest on this episode of Cross & Gavel. Kim and Mike discuss why religious liberty is a hot topic, what's up with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFFA), and whether religious liberty is simply a license to discriminate.
Kim Colby has been involved in religious freedom advocacy for more than 30 years and is one of the most thoughtful voices on the topic in the country.
More resources referred to in the podcast:
Michael McConnell, Why Protect Religious Freedom? (Review of Brian Leiter's Why Tolerate Religion?)
Mike Schutt is the Director of CLS's Law Student Ministries and Attorney Ministries. He'll be re-joining the faculty of Regent University School of Law this week. Regent and CLS are founders of the Institute for Christian Legal Studies, the sponsor of Cross & Gavel Audio.
Many are confused by the hype and hysteria surrounding RFRA -- the Religous Freedom Restoration Act, passed unanimously on the Federal level and signed into law by Bill Clinton. Why the hysteria over a similar act passed this year in Indiana? Why do both state AND federal RFRAs exist? And what is RLUIPA?
Kim Colby, who has been involved in religious liberty work for close to 35 years, answers these questions and more in our discussion.
Kimberllee Wood Colby is Senior Counsel and the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom.
Mike Schutt is CLS's director of the Institute for Christian Legal Studies and a visiting professor at Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, California.