Court seems divided in cake case examining religious rights, expression

David Cole, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, defending the couple, said discrimination against the couple who wanted the cake consigned them to “second-class status.”

The last minutes of the oral arguments boiled down to the opposing views but also didn’t reveal a clear path forward.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the nation’s views about interracial marriages “didn’t change on its own” but because of “public accommodation laws that forced people to do things that many claimed were against their expressive rights and against their religious rights.”

“Whatever it is you choose to sell, you have to sell it to everyone who knocks on your door, if you open your door to everyone,” she added.

In response, Waggoner said it would be a grave offense to the First Amendment to “compel a person who believes that marriage is sacred, to give voice to a different view of marriage and require them to celebrate that marriage.”

Sotomayor suggested not participating in weddings or creating neutral wedding cakes but that refusing to offer goods to some goes against public anti-discrimination laws.

Waggoner in her last allotted minute said: “A wedding cake expresses an inherent message that is that the union is a marriage and is to be celebrated, and that message violates Mr. Phillips’ religious convictions.”