A First Amendment double header at the US Supreme Court, Masterpiece Cakeshop and Janus

The United States Supreme Court almost always has a case holding significant drama and legal change on its docket each term.  The two blockbusters for the 2017-2018 term, from our perspective, are Masterpiece CakeShop and Janus.  Both deal with important public policy and First Amendment issues.

Let me explain.

Masterpiece Cakeshop

In the first major decision addressing gay and lesbian rights since Ogerbefell v. Hodges was decided in 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage in America, the United States Supreme Court tomorrow considers at oral argument a Colorado statute that makes it a crime to refuse to provide services on an equal basis to gays and lesbians in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The issue presented to the Court is:

Whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel the petitioner to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment.

Some key links for your reading pleasure:

Argument preview: Wedding Cakes v. Religious beliefs?

Symposium: Shotgun wedding? Forcing religious vendors to participate in wedding ceremonies

Brief of Petitioners Masterpiece Cakeshop Lts., et al.

Brief of respondent Colorado Civil Rights Commission.


The second major case before the Court, as our firm sees it, is Janus v. AFSCME, which addresses the question of whether government employees can be forced to pay dues to unions against their volition.  The issue as framed before the Court:

Whether Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment.

The Finney law Firm has been retained to write and file an Amicus Brief in the Janus case, which is due shortly.

Some key links for your reading pleasure:

Brief of petitioner Mark Janus

Will the third time be the charm for challenge to public-sector union fees?


Both cases promise to have far-reaching impacts on public life in this country, especially Janus which fundamentally will change public union collective bargaining.

Stay tuned for decisions on these and other cases by early July.