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What is Masterpiece Cakeshop Really About?

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at Rutgers Law School

Camden, NJ

One of the most anticipated Supreme Court cases this term is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.   On its surface, it is about whether a baker may refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.  Obviously, however, Masterpiece Cakeshop is about much more than a wedding cake.  It will likely impact housing, employment, accommodations, and non-discrimination law.  It is about the parameters of religious liberty and civil rights, as those terms are contested by conservatives and liberals.  And without exaggeration, it is about competing understandings of American democracy itself which are playing out at the highest levels of our politics.

Dr. Jay Michaelson is the legal affairs columnist for The Daily Beast and an affiliated assistant professor at Chicago Theological Seminary.  He has been a leading authority on the U.S. “religious exemptions” movement for five years and is the author of the 2013 report Redefining Religious Liberty (Political Research Associates).  Dr. Michaelson has discussed religious exemptions on CNN, NPR and MSNBC; has published on the issue in Reuters, the Washington Post, Religion News Service, and The Daily Beast; and lectured on the issue at Yale Law School, Brooklyn Law School, University of Arkansas, University of Central Florida, University of Pittsburgh Law School, and other institutions.