The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to reverse a state court ruling affirming Oregon’s $135,000 fine of the owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa for refusing to violate their religious beliefs and create a cake celebrating same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court already has ruled in favor of a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, who refuse the same request, citing the state’s “hostility” to his Christian faith.
Now a friend-of-the-court brief has been filed in support of the request for the high court to reverse the Sweetcakes ruling. It contends the state had a perverse motive in imposing a death sentence on the bakery owned by Melissa and Aaron Klein, which was forced to close.
The government’s intervention, the brief asserts, is “a step on the road to Fascism.”
William J. Olson P.C. filed the brief on behalf of Public Advocate of the United States, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, One Nation Under God Foundation and Restoring Liberty Action Committee.
It contends that the “notion of declaring all businesses (and all individuals) to be places of public accommodation has become in vogue in certain states, enacted, inter alia, to cater to the political powerful or politically favored, but it has no common law or even federal antecedent.”
“Such laws place government bureaucrats in operational charge of businesses, imposing the state’s morality on every business owner, while still (nominally) allowing private ownership of the ‘means of production.’ Thus, it is best understood as extreme interventionism – a step on the road to Fascism. Consider how the Oregon Public Accommodation law accords with the description of Fascism offered by scholar Sheldon Richmond, editor of The Freeman.”
Richmond wrote: “As an economic system, fascism is SOCIALISM with a capitalist veneer. … Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners.”
The brief stated: “In its essence, the Oregon law confiscates from individuals and businesses the right to determine with whom they will do business and on what terms. They smack of the type of control that Benito Mussolini described in his 1928 autobiography.”
In it, the dictator wrote: “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity. The Fascist State with its corporative conception puts men and their possibilities into productive work and interprets for them the duties they have to fulfill.”
“We don’t often tell people they are acting like fascists – unless they
deserve it,” Olson told WND.
Officials in the office of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declined to respond to a WND request for comment.
WND reported when First Liberty Institute filed a petition to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Kleins.
“Freedom of speech has always included the freedom not to speak the government’s message,” First Liberty President Kelly Shackelford said at the time. “This case can clarify whether speech is truly free if it is government mandated.”
“In this case, the court has the opportunity to resolve perhaps the most critical issue the Masterpiece court left unresolved: whether the government can compel citizens to create a message contrary to their religious beliefs,” the legal team said.
It was the Bureau of Labor and Industries in Oregon that asserted the Kleins violated Oregon’s public accommodations statute when they declined to design and create a wedding cake honoring same-sex marriage.
In addition to the $135,000 penalty for “emotional damages,” the state issued a gag order that prevented the Kleins from talking about their case.
The most recent decision in the Oregon case came from the state Supreme Court, which upheld the order that killed the business.
The Kleins explained to the couple, Rachel Bowman-Cryer and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, that providing a wedding cake would violate their Christian beliefs. But the same-sex pair filed complaints with the Oregon Department of Labor and Industries. The agency investigated and awarded $75,000 in damages to one and $60,000 to the other.
Court records said that then-Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian “made numerous public comments on social media and in media interviews revealing his intent to rule against them.”
“He stated that the Kleins had ‘disobey[ed]’ Oregon law and needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d].'”
The friend-of-the-court filing explains Oregon’s law gives state control over private behavior and grants rights to “politically powerful classes.” It contends the damage award violates the Free Exercise Clause, and there are important federal issues that have not been resolved.
The damages were awarded, the filing explains, despite the duo enjoying an “economic benefit” of being given a cake for only $250 from another baker, whereas Sweetcakes would have charged $600.
It also points out that the state’s agency is both prosecutor and judge in such cases and that those in the agency who participated in the attack on the Kleins were exempt from the “Oregon Code of Judicial Ethics,” because they were not officers of the judicial system.
The state acknowledged the Kleins’ testimony: “Respondents … have been jointly committed to live their lives and operate their business according to their Christian religious convictions. Based on specific passages from the Bible, they have a sincerely held belief that God ‘uniquely and purposefully designed the institution of marriage exclusively as the union of one man and one woman’ and that ‘the Bible forbids us from proclaiming messages or participating in activities contrary to biblical principles, including celebrations or ceremonies for uniting same-sex couples.'”
State officials, however, simply “disregarded” the testimony.
The brief states the case “is an attempt by Oregon to regulate the operation of a small business in ways that many Bible-believing Christians simply cannot obey. It takes the Law of Public Accommodation and expands it in ways that are completely untethered to its long history in common law.”
“The existential threat faced now by Sweetcakes Baker by Melissa is being repeated with increasing frequency by those twenty or so states which have public accommodation laws which operate to morally and religiously subjugate Christians and others who resist homosexual marriage to the demands of the LGBT Agenda. This is a threat to the Freedom of Religion of a great swath of the nation.”
The brief charges, “The threat to the Christian cakemaker in this case is part of a nationwide political, LGBT-led, relentless and well-funded campaign to use government power to coerce individuals and businesses to facilitate, participate in, and celebrate same-sex marriage. And it is part of an effort to destroy the livelihood of those individuals and businesses who stand against the secular tide.”
The Supreme Court, in fact, said in its majority opinion in the 2015 same-sex marriage case that the rights of Christians who believe same-sex marriage to be a sin are fully protected.