Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission


Status:  Filed

Constitutional Principle: Discrimination 

On December 5, 2017, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument on whether a business open to the public has a constitutional right to discriminate.

David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in July 2012, with Charlie’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Dave and Charlie planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home in Colorado. But bakery owner Jack Phillips informed them that the bakery wouldn’t sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

Longstanding Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses open to the public such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on characteristics like race, religion, or sexual orientation. Dave and Charlie filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division contending that the bakery violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Following an investigation and hearings, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that the bakery illegally discriminated against Dave and Charlie when it refused them service.

On August 13, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the Commission’s order, finding that the bakery discriminated because of sexual orientation in violation of state law. The court also concluded that application of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act did not infringe the bakery’s freedom of speech or free exercise of religion. The Colorado Supreme Court denied review, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on June 26, 2017.

Status: After victories for equality at every stage of the case, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument on December 5, 2017. In advance of oral argument, more than 40 friend-of-the-court briefs were filed in support of Dave and Charlie.


Business, Civil Rights, and Legal Voices File Briefs
OCTOBER 30, 2017

Supreme Court will hear case
JUNE 26, 2017

Court Hearing
AUGUST 13, 2015



The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case: What You Need to Know
By Ria Tabacco Mar | OCTOBER 24, 2017

The Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court Case Is One Piece of a Much Larger Attack on LGBTQ Lives
By Chase StrangioSEPTEMBER 22, 2017

The Right to Equal Treatment: Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
By the ACLU Staff | SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

President Trump and Attorney General Sessions Want to Enshrine a Business Right to Discriminate Into the Constitution
By James EsseksSEPTEMBER 7, 2017

Can Businesses Turn LGBT People Away Because of Who They Are? That’s Up to the Supreme Court Now.
By James EsseksJUNE 26, 2017

In Colorado, Freedom Should Mean Freedom for Everyone
By Charile Craig | MAY 29, 2014

It Was Never About the Cake
By Deborah Munn | DECEMBER 9, 2013

A Wedding Cake For Fido & Fluffy But Not For Dave & Charlie?
By Kiela Parks and John Krieger | JUNE 4, 2013


Business, Civil Rights, and Legal Voices File Briefs in Supreme Court, Defending Rights of Same-Sex Couple Discriminated Against by Business
OCTOBER 30, 2017

ACLU Comment on Justice Department Position in Masterpiece Cakeshop SCOTUS Case

Supreme Court Will Hear ACLU Case About Cake Shop Refusing Service to Same-Sex Couple
JUNE 26, 2017

Court Hears Arguments Brought by Gay Couple Turned Away at Masterpiece Cakeshop
JULY 7, 2015


Supreme Court (Colorado)

Colorado Court of Appeals