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Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: A New License to Discriminate?

On Tuesday, December 5, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the most important civil rights case this term. The case involves a Colorado cake shop that refused to bake a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. Arguments that the Constitution protects the right to discriminate are not new—the case is reminiscent of the same type of discrimination civil rights leaders have fought against for decades.

Colorado law prohibits businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission brought this civil rights action against the shop and owners. However, the shop owners argue that they have the constitutional right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs and free speech rights.

Discrimination against LGBTQ people takes place all across the country every day. Fortunately, more than 20 states have laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. In state after state with those protections, LGBTQ people have won lawsuits rejecting the notion that the rights to free speech and religion trump state laws duly enacted to protect our friends, colleagues, and neighbors from discrimination. The Supreme Court’s ruling could upset that balance.

Please join us at the Center for American Progress as national leaders discuss the civil rights implications of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and how the ruling could have impact well beyond the LGBTQ community.

Welcoming remarks:
Laura Durso, Vice President of the LGBT Research and Communications Project, Center for American Progress
Michele Jawando, Vice President of Legal Progress, Center for American Progress

Distinguished panelists:
Elise Boddie, Professor of Law, Henry Rutgers University Professor, and Robert L. Carter Scholar, Rutgers University
Rebecca Cokley, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Louise Melling, Deputy Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union
Dariely Rodriguez, Director of the Economic Justice Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President of External Affairs, Center for American Progress


1333 H Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

Transit instructions

Metro: Blue/Orange/Silver lines to McPherson Square; Red line to Metro Center

Additional information

A light lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m.


Closed-captioned-enabled video will be posted following the conclusion of the event.
If you require ADA-related accommodations for your in-person attendance at this event, please email as soon as possible so that we may assist you.