Wedding cake (illustration)
Wedding cake (illustration)iStock

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, today welcomed the US Supreme Court Decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Civil Rights Commission claimed that Masterpiece Cakeshop engaged in illegal discrimination because its proprietor, Jack Phillips, declined to create a custom wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage. Today, the US Supreme Court rejected that claim by a 7-2 majority.

Lawyers for Phillips pointed out that he would bake a cake for anyone, and was thus not discriminating against any person or group; he merely could not celebrate a ceremony that he regards as a violation of his faith. Thus the Supreme Court majority opinion determined that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission demonstrated "a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection."

"The premise of the case was patently absurd," said Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Managing Director of the CJV. "Bigotry has always been understood as discrimination against individuals. Leftist groups attempted to elevate same-sex marriage to be a fundamental matter of identity, such that not baking a wedding cake would be akin to refusing service to blacks or Jews. That would not enhance civil rights; it would have trampled them, sacrificing religious freedoms ensconced in the First Amendment on the altar of political correctness."

"This case created a situation uniquely dangerous to Jewish Americans," said CJV Vice President Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, "because our religion is one of observance. The Constitution does not speak merely of freedom of worship or belief, but underscores free exercise, free religious practice. The wrong decision would have prohibited free exercise of religion for business owners, rendering the First Amendment devoid of meaning in a way that affects every aspect of our lives. It could have made Jewish observance a target of potential lawsuits by those seeking a new form of persecution."

"The people who sued Jack Phillips were not opposed to discrimination, but, as the Supreme Court determined, expert practitioners of the craft," Rabbi Menken concluded, "and that was not what the Founding Fathers envisioned as American values. False accusations of bigotry demonstrate intolerance for those of different views and limit their freedoms, and as the Supreme Court determined, it was Those who tried to punish Phillips for expressing his religious beliefs in practice must ask themselves: is that the America in which they would want to live?"

The Rabbinical Alliance of America (RAA) also praised the decision.

RAA President Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht stated: “Since its inception in 1942, the RAA/Igud has consistently championed the protection of our first amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religious choices. Today’s decision, rendered by the highest court in the land, clearly demonstrates that our constitutional rights have not been quashed in favor of political correctness.” He added: “In this historic decision and religious choice and religious conviction has been preserved and honored by the distinguished jurists of the Supreme Court, whom we wholeheartedly applaud. Everyone who cherishes religious liberty and the freedom of religious expression should take pause at this moment to thank G-d for the multitudinous rights conferred upon us in this great nation.”