Media Advisory: 
Columbia Law School Scholars Professor Katherine Franke and Elizabeth Reiner Platt are available for expert commentary on Supreme Court of the United States Hearing of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission; arguments to be heard on Tuesday, December 5th, 2017.

Press Contacts:

Liz Boylan
Associate Director, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School
212.854.0167 | eboyla@law.columbia.edu

Professor Katherine Franke
Director, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School
Faculty Director, Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, Columbia Law School
212.854.0061 | katherine.franke@law.columbia.edu

Elizabeth Reiner Platt
Director, Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, Columbia Law School
212.854.8079 | elizabeth.platt@law.columbia.edu

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New York, December 1, 2017: Professor Katherine Franke of Columbia Law Schooland Elizabeth Reiner Platt led scholars in the submission of an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  Arguments are scheduled to be heard in the case on Tuesday, December 5th.

“The Supreme Court’s most significant religious liberty cases have drawn a connection between the protection of religious liberty and principles of non-discrimination,” said Katherine Franke, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project at Columbia Law School. “Masterpiece Cakeshop’s argument throws a wedge between these two fundamental American values, a position that poses a particularly dangerous threat to the rights of people of minority faith traditions.”

“Religious liberty and equality in the public sphere are both fundamental American values. In the vast majority of cases, anti-discrimination law protects both religious freedom and equality by ensuring that those of all faiths, including unpopular faiths, are able to work and participate in the public marketplace without facing discrimination from either the government or other citizens,” said Elizabeth Reiner Platt, Director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project at Columbia Law School. “The risks to religious freedom of allowing exemptions from anti-discrimination law would far outweigh any benefit to those with a religious opposition to marriage equality. Such exemptions threaten to decimate the protections for religious minorities that have long offered them some measure of defense from discrimination in their daily lives.”

The amicus brief submitted by Professor Franke and Elizabeth Reiner Platt engaged 15 co-signatories from community-based and faith organizations, and argues that overly-broad accommodations of religious liberty, such as that requested by Masterpiece Cakeshop, undermine not just LGBT rights but religious liberty itself. As the brief explains: “There can be no dispute that anti-discrimination laws have long played a crucial role in protecting the rights of religious minorities. Petitioners’ requested exemption will dramatically limit — if not completely eliminate — that protection.” The brief further elucidates that the United States’ “constitutional commitment to religious liberty has always entailed a corollary commitment to non-discrimination. Indeed, the integrity of the former has always relied upon the enforcement of the latter.”

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The Public Rights/Private Conscience Project is a think tank housed within the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. The Project’s mission is to bring legal, policy, advocacy, and academic expertise to bear on the multiple contexts in which religious liberty rights conflict with or undermine other fundamental rights to equality and liberty.

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