WASHINGTON – Today, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Court did not rule on the pressing questions underlying the case, which concern the extent to which civil rights constitute a compelling interest that would limit the application of the Free Exercise Clause for religiously motivated claims of entities that engage in public commerce to discriminate.
In response to the ruling, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Women of Reform Judaism, and the wider Reform Movement:
“We are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop. The Court’s narrow decision relied on the issue of whether the Colorado Civil Rights Commission exhibited a level of hostility to religious freedom claims that prevented a fair adjudication of this dispute. Though the ruling does not set a precedent to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people, it is a missed opportunity to affirmatively protect the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation.
“As Jews, we believe that we are all created B’tzelem Elohim, in the Divine Image. We are called to treat each other with dignity and respect. We can protect religious freedom claims without restricting the fundamental rights of all people to live free from discrimination in places of public accommodation as well as in every arena where our laws offer civil rights protections. Arguing otherwise distorts and weaponizes these essential freedoms.”
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.