Christian baker's Supreme Court case prompts hundreds of artists to speak up for free expression

Hundreds of artists and creative professionals filed amicus briefs to speak up in defense of free expression as Christian baker Jack Phillips headed to the Supreme Court to determine if the state of Colorado could force him to make custom same-sex wedding cakes against his religious beliefs.

(REUTERS / Aaron P. Bernstein)Baker Jack Phillips speaks with the media following oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case at the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2017.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is one of the Supreme Court's most important cases this year because the verdict will affect artists who may want to turn down certain projects that go against their personal beliefs. This is why 11 cake artists and 479 other creative professionals submitted amicus briefs at the high court to defend their right to free expression, The Daily Signal explained.

According to the cake artists in their amicus brief, custom cakes were a form of art and the process of creating this involved the same amount of expression as painting and web design. They also mentioned the numerous custom cake designs found at the copyright record of the Library of Congress and asserted that such were protected by the intellectual property law.

Creative professionals from 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico also filed an amicus brief in support of Phillips, saying a ruling against the Christian baker could jeopardize their freedom of expression. Although the Masterpiece Cakeshop case deals with same-sex weddings, they fear that all other artists will compelled to create artwork against their conscience.

"Should an African-American supporter of 'Black Lives Matter' be required to make and design a cake for white nationalist function?" the creative professionals demanded to know in their amicus brief. "Must a graphic designer who supports gun control create advocacy literature for the National Rifle Association? Is an atheist photographer obliged to take and publish pictures of a Christian baptism?"

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to be divided on the issue during the hearing on Dec. 5. Pivotal Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed concern over both discrimination against gays and also anti-religion bias, and asked difficult questions to both sides, Reuters reported.

Outside the courthouse, hundreds of people gathered to express support for both sides. While the gay couple that sued Phillips told reporters that they felt humiliated because their same-sex wedding cake order was turned down, the Christian baker lamented the government's efforts to force him to choose between keeping his business afloat and destroying his relationship with God.