The owners of a shuttered Oregon bakery fined for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Oregonian reports that lawyers for Melissa and Aaron Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, filed the petition to “question whether artists in public commerce are protected by the First Amendment when they decline to create expression that would violate their religious beliefs.”
In June, the high court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker in a similar case, but that decision didn't address whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to lesbian and gay people.
Instead, the justices focused on how the Colorado Civil Rights Commission handled the case. The narrow ruling, University of Denver law professor Nancy Leong said, didn’t “get to that fundamental tension at all really, it entirely hinges on these statements that were made by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.”
The Klein’s petition says that this case, should the Supreme Court hear it, “would allow the Court to resolve disagreements in the lower courts about the kinds of expression that merit First Amendment protection.”
The Kleins are seeking to overturn an Oregon state order to pay $135,000 in emotional damages to the couple they turned away.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries imposed the fine in 2015 after finding the Kleins had violated a state anti-discrimination law. An Oregon appeals court upheld the order, and the Oregon Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
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