The nonprofit law firm backing Jack Phillips, the Christian baker at the center of what has been described as "one of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases of our lifetimes," has revealed that oral hearings are set for December.
"The Supreme Court has set oral arguments for Masterpiece Cakeshop for Tuesday, December 5th," Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in a Facebook update on Friday.
The case concerns the First Amendment rights of Phillips, the Christian baker who was found guilty by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2014 for discriminating against same-sex couple Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012, when he refused to make a cake for their wedding.
As ADF explains on its website, Phillips has also refused to make Halloween cakes and other items that do not align with his beliefs. His decision not to serve gay weddings has reached the nation's highest court, however.
"In America, artistic expression shouldn't be subject to government control. Jack's case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, is an example of what happens when the government gets into the ideology business and begins to punish private citizens if they don't share and celebrate the same beliefs as the state," ADF positioned.
"Now the Supreme Court must decide — does the First Amendment protect Jack's artistic freedom, a principle the high court has long defended, or not?"
The conservative law group has argued that the Supreme Court's decision in 2015 to redefine marriage to include gay couples does not mean freedom can also be redefined.
"The government does not have the power to force creative professionals like Jack — or anyone for that matter — to celebrate events that violate their faith. That's the kind of freedom the First Amendment guarantees, and that's why we seek justice for Jack," ADF contended.
ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner filed the opening brief with the Supreme Court in August, arguing that tolerance is a two-way street.
"The First Amendment protects Jack's right to create artistic expression that is consistent with his core convictions. Individuals can support both same-sex marriage and Jack, and people should have the right to disagree on critical matters of conscience," Waggoner said.
Phillips, who revealed that he has received death threats over the case, has been backed by President Donald Trump's administration.
"Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights," Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall wrote for the Justice Department in September.
"The government may not enact content-based laws commanding a speaker to engage in protected expression: An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play, and a poet cannot be forced to write."
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the same-sex couple, blasted the Trump administration's move.
"This Justice Department has already made its hostility to the rights of LGBT people and so many others crystal clear," said Louise Melling, ACLU's deputy legal director.
"But this brief was shocking, even for this administration. What the Trump Administration is advocating for is nothing short of a constitutional right to discriminate."
More than 45 briefs have been filed by groups such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as 86 members of Congress, in support of Masterpiece Cakeshop.