With the creation of our JCJ Lawyers’ Committee, the Jewish Center for Justice has assembled a cohort of attorneys to help our community monitor and navigate the justice system and the many ways in which court decisions impact the moral fabric of our society and the values that we hold dear.
Just last week, we witnessed the Supreme Court rule in favor of the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. While the Court did not comment on the issue of discrimination towards the LGBTQ community, the results of this case make clear the need for Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would amend existing law — including the 1964 Civil Rights Act — to provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life such as employment, housing, credit and education. As a Jewish community fighting for justice and dignity for all people, we continue to be alarmed by mounting attempts to justify discrimination through our legal system.
Despite the Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, there is a slice of optimism according to JCJ Lawyers’ Committee member Padraic Glaspy, who has been monitoring the Brush & Nib Studio v Phoenix case. On Thursday, the Arizona Court of Appeals released the first decision to consider the constitutionality of LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
While the SCOTUS decision declined to expressly resolve the central question in the case — whether religious businesses have a First Amendment right to discriminate against same-sex couples — the Arizona Court of Appeals’ ruling provides the first indication that the judiciary will construe Masterpiece Cakeshop to affirm the constitutionality of civil rights measures that protect LGBTQ Americans. In this particular case, the City of Phoenix passed a measure to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public accommodations.
The Arizona Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision is the first encouraging sign that the most enduring declaration of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision may be its reaffirmation of the equal dignity and worth of the LGBTQ community and the constitutionality of non-discrimination laws passed to protect them. To stay up-to-date on the Jewish community’s pursuit of equal rights and justice for all, subscribe to the JCJ newsletter, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.