AUSTIN – Leading an 11-state coalition, Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review the case of two Oregon bakers and their constitutionally-protected conscience rights.
The state of Oregon forced Aaron and Melissa Klein to shut down their business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, after declining to create a cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony in 2013 because of their deeply held religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 in compensatory damages for violating the state’s public accommodations law. The couple filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to overturn the state of Oregon’s ruling.
“Aaron and Melissa Klein should be allowed to choose what they will or will not create without fear of being unjustly threatened or pressured by the government,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Taking up the Oregon conscience rights case will give the Supreme Court a chance to affirm that the First Amendment contains robust protections for people to live in accordance with their religious beliefs.”
Previously, Attorney General Paxton led a group of 20 states in defending the religious liberty of a Colorado baker who declined to create a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, but did not address broader free speech issues of whether wedding vendors and other businesses can legally decline to create certain types of art or participate in certain events.
Last year, leading another multistate coalition, Attorney General Paxton filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court defending the First Amendment rights of Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman. The owner of Arlene’s Flowers was fined after declining to create a floral design for a same-sex wedding because of her religious beliefs. Earlier this year, in light of its Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, the high court vacated the Washington state Supreme Court ruling against Stutzman and ordered it to take another look at the case.
View the U.S. Supreme Court brief here: