Whether a business open to the public has a constitutional right to discriminate.
David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in July 2012, with Charlie’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Dave and Charlie planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home in Colorado. But bakery owner Jack Phillips informed them that the bakery wouldn’t sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.
Longstanding Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses open to the public such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on characteristics like race, religion, or sexual orientation. Dave and Charlie filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division contending that the bakery violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Following an investigation and hearings, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that the bakery illegally discriminated against Dave and Charlie when it refused them service.
On August 13, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the Commission’s order, finding that the bakery discriminated because of sexual orientation in violation of state law. The court also concluded that application of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act did not infringe the bakery’s freedom of speech or free exercise of religion. The Colorado Supreme Court denied review, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on June 26, 2017.
Update (6/2/18): The Supreme Court reversed the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, based on concerns specific to the case.
SCOTUS Reverses Colorado Civil Rights Commission DecisionJune 4, 2018
The Supreme Court reversed the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, based on concerns specific to the case.
Business, Civil Rights, and Legal Voices File BriefsOctober 30, 2017
Individuals and institutions from across the country representing a diverse cross-section of interests, perspectives, and concerns filed friend-of-court briefs today with the Supreme Court in support of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a same-sex couple refused service by a Colorado bakery that claimed that selling them a wedding cake would violate the owner’s religious beliefs and artistic freedom.
Supreme Court will hear caseJune 26, 2017
On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court announced it will review the decision from the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Court HearingAugust 13, 2015
Unanimous decision in the Colorado Court of Appeals on August 13, 2015 affirms a finding in May 2014 from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that the Masterpiece Cakeshop’s policy of turning away same-sex couples violates Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.
Follow The Case
United States Supreme Court
- 10/30/2017Amicus Briefs in Support of Respondents
- 09/07/2017Amicus Briefs in Support of Petitioners
- 09/07/2017Amicus Briefs in Support of Neither Party
Supreme Court (Colo.)
Colorado Court of Appeals
- 02/13/2015Amicus Briefs in Support of Craig and Mullins
Colorado Civil Rights Commission