Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Reaffirm Individual Free Speech
September 14, 2017
Says, ‘These unique and important freedoms must be protected’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, calling on the court to protect the freedom of speech of a baker in Colorado. The brief calls on the Court to follow through on the commitment it made in Obergefell to protect this fundamental right.
“An individual’s free speech must be protected by the government, not threatened,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Supreme Court has routinely protected free speech and the religious conscience rights of citizens – aspects of our freedom that make this country unique to its core. These unique and important freedoms must be protected.”
The justices will hear arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission later this year. The owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, CO declined to bake a wedding cake for a local same-sex couple. Owner Jack Phillips indicated to the couple that he would be glad to make a birthday or graduation cake or a cake for any other occasion. But he could not, consistent with his religious views, design and create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. Phillips’ refusal to design and create such a cake is consistent with his refusal to create cakes for Halloween or divorcee parties – events that his religious beliefs prevent him from supporting.
As the coalition notes, “This compulsion of speech is constitutionality forbidden. And for good reason: Government power to order individuals to speak in a manner that violates their conscience is fundamentally at odds with the freedom of expression and tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints that this Nation has long enjoyed and promoted.”
Rutledge has filed this brief after she co-led a 14-state coalition in filing an amicus brief with the Court urging the justices to grant review and protect the religious conscience rights of a Washington florist named Barronelle Stutzman.
Joining Rutledge on today’s brief, which was led by the state of Texas, are the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, along with the Commonwealth Of Kentucky, by and through Governor Matthew G. Bevin and Paul R. Le Page, Governor of Maine.