Supreme Court to Decide Whether It's Legal to Discriminate Against LGBTQ People Because of Religion

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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case that could have major implications for the ability of private citizens to discriminate against LGBTQ people on the grounds of religious freedom.


The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, involves a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration, citing his religious beliefs. The couple sued. A court in Colorado, as well as the state’s Civil Rights Commission, ruled against Phillips, and the Colorado Supreme Court declined to take up the case.

The Supreme Court had previously delayed a decision on whether to hear the case. After it finally agreed to, there was speculation that Justice Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s appointee to the Court, had provided a crucial final vote in favor of taking the case.

In doing so, the justices will be weighing in on one of the most fraught areas of civil rights law in recent years. In the wake of the advance of LGBTQ rights, so-called “religious freedom” laws—which, in practice, allow people to refuse services to LGBTQ people because of their religious beliefs—have popped up in states across the country over the past few years.

Deputy Editor, Splinter