Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals is once again hearing oral argument in Melissa Klein v. Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). BOLI ordered Aaron and Melissa Klein, of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery, to pay $135,000 for declining to create a custom cake for a same sex wedding. In June of 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States vacated the Oregon order upholding the fine and remanded the case back to Oregon in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.
Masterpiece held that government officials must remain neutral on issues of religion and cannot act with hostility toward religious believers. Attorneys for Boyden Gray & Associates and First Liberty Institute argue that BOLI demonstrated anti-religious hostility in several ways, including awarding emotional damages based upon the quotation of a Bible verse, awarding an amount of damages that overshadows cases involving physical violence or sexual harassment, and making public statements demonstrating that the Commissioner prejudged the case before hearing the evidence.
Will the Oregon Court of Appeals follow the Supreme Court’s mandate?
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Stephanie Taub is Senior Counsel to First Liberty Institute, a non-profit law firm dedicated to defending religious freedom for all. Read more at FirstLiberty.org.