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Episode 8: No Ordinary Piece of Cake: A Discussion of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm’n

Featuring guest speaker, Joshua Block of the American Civil Liberties Union. 

In Episode 8 of Notorious, we discuss the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The U.S. Supreme Court addressed whether the actions of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC), under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, in assessing a cakeshop owner’s reasons for declining to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration, violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In a 7-2 opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Court reversed the CCRC’s decision. The Court narrowly ruled that the CCRC did not employ religious neutrality and violated the bakery owner’s right to free exercise of religion. The Court declined to decide the broader issues of the intersection of anti-discrimination laws, free exercise of religion, and freedom of speech. 

Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Sotomayor joined. Strongly disagreeing with the outcome of the majority, Justice Ginsburg argued, “When a couple contacts a bakery for a wedding cake, the product they are seeking is a cake celebrating their wedding ― not a cake celebrating heterosexual weddings or same-sex weddings ― and that is the service [the couple] were denied.”

Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney with the National ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Projects, joined by Patterson Belknap attorneys, Michelle Bufano, Jonah Knobler and Elena Steiger Reich, discuss the different views expressed by the majority and dissent. 

Related Resources:

For a selection of Justice Ginsburg’s writings, see Decisions and Dissents of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:  A Selection, edited by Corey Brettschneider.

For more information about Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, see

For information about becoming a guest on Notorious, email Michelle Bufano.

For questions or more information about Notorious, email Jenni Dickson.

Also, check out the Patterson Belknap podcast, How to Build A Nation in 15 Weeks.