The Supreme Court on Monday vacated rulings that resulted in $135,000 in state fines against Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, who refused in 2013 to create a cake for a lesbian wedding on religious grounds.
Rather than taking up the Klein’s case, the high court sent it back to Oregon officials to revisit in light of its ruling last year for Colorado baker Jack Phillips in a similar case.
In Phillips’ case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Colorado erred by showing hostility toward Phillips’ Christian beliefs.
The Kleins owned Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a business that specialized in custom cake creations. When a lesbian inquired about a cake for her same-sex wedding in 2013, the Kleins explained they couldn’t create it due to their conviction that marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman.
In response, the state of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries went after the Kleins, levying fines of $135,000 and driving them out of business. In 2016, a state appeals court upheld the punitive measures against the Kleins.
Franklin Graham, who has voiced support for the Kleins through their ordeal, said on Facebook: “Religious freedom should be cherished by all of us. But the progressive socialists in our country want to strip us of those freedoms and regulate those freedoms. That’s the same thing Communism did in Russia and Eastern Europe, and is still doing today in places like Cuba and China. These people hate God and despise those who worship Him. This should be deeply concerning to all people of faith, whether you’re a Jew, a Muslim or a Christian.
“Aaron and Melissa Klein … have been harassed, had to close their business, been fined $135,000, and more. Their lives have been turned upside down—but they didn’t back down about their beliefs. … Be in prayer for Aaron, Melissa and their entire family. Pray that the courts give them justice and protect their religious freedom. The Kleins represent all of us. If they lose, we all lose.”
First Liberty Institute, which represents the Kleins along with Boyden Gray & Associates, said in a statement that Monday’s decision “reaffirmed an essential principle of fairness. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial before an unbiased judge. Our clients, the Kleins, didn’t have that opportunity in Oregon. They are thankful to the Court for recognizing their right to a fair trial and an unbiased adjudicator.”
Photo: First Liberty Institute