(Los Angeles Times) — Wedding cakes and same-sex marriages are back before the Supreme Court, and this time the justices are being asked to rule broadly that the 1st Amendment’s protection of the “free exercise” of religion shields conservative Christians from state civil rights laws.
An Oregon couple who were fined $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for the marriage of two women have asked the justices to take their case. If the court does so, the new conservative majority could significantly change the law on religious liberty and LGBTQ rights. The justices could announce as early as Monday whether they will hear the case.
For nearly three decades, the court has followed a rule set down in a 1990 decision written by a conservative hero, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Rejecting a claim brought by Native Americans who smoked peyote as part of a religious ceremony, Scalia said that the Constitution’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion did not provide a shield against a “neutral and generally applicable law.”
In the peyote case, two men had been fired for using an illegal drug.