OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor and 16 other state attorneys general have filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Oregon bakery owners that refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple back in 2013.
O’Connor says the brief is in support of “small business owners’ First Amendment right to free speech and religious freedom.”
The 17 AGs argue the Supreme Court should hear the appeal in Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.
“The government should protect religious freedom, not threaten it,” O’Connor said. “Every Oklahoman and American has the right to express their First Amendment rights without fear. I am committed to preserving the First Amendment and will continue to ensure religious liberties are protected.”
The case concerns Melissa and Aaron Klein, who operated ‘Sweetcakes by Melissa’ in Oregon when they refused to make a cake to celebrate the same-sex wedding of Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman.
“Due to the Klein’s religious beliefs, they declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, which led to an initial $135,000 fine and forced them to close their business and move to a different state,” said O’Connor.
In 2019, Supreme Court Justices sent the case back to the lower courts for further consideration in light of the previous term’s ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple.
Now, the case has made its way back onto the Supreme Court’s docket and the 17 state AGs are urging the Justices to hear the argument.
In the brief, O’Connor writes, “Artistic work, whether viewed as pure speech itself or as conduct that is inherently expressive, has always received full First Amendment protection. Even when artistic works may seemingly lack any aesthetic or communicative value, this Court has determined that those works will be treated as expression entitled to full protection under the First Amendment if the individual made a serious attempt at creating art.”
Joining O’Connor are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.