Munger, Tolles & Olson Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Gay Rights Case

Munger, Tolles & Olson represented the American Bar Association (ABA) in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 30, 2017 in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that case, the owners of a bakery in Colorado argue that selling wedding cakes to same-sex couples violates their First Amendment rights.

The ABA’s amicus brief argues that since the Civil Rights Era in the 1960s, Congress and the Supreme Court have rejected similar attempts by businesses to claim constitutional exemptions from laws forbidding discrimination in the provision of public accommodations. The brief traces the arguments made before Congress and the court during the period and shows that both branches decisively rejected exactly the same arguments being made in this case.

“Petitioners dress their First Amendment arguments in new constitutional garb, but the substance of those arguments is equally threadbare,” Munger, Tolles & Olson writes in the brief.

The ABA further contends that equal dignity for gay and lesbian citizens “necessarily encompasses a right to participate on full and equal terms in day-to-day commercial and social activities without fearing exclusion and stigma based on one’s identity or intimate relationships,” and the Supreme Court should reject the petitioners’ and federal government’s attempt to “consign gays and lesbians to second-class status under antidiscrimination laws.”

The Munger, Tolles & Olson attorneys representing the ABA are Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Chad Golder, Ginger D. Anders, Jordan D. Segall and Allyson R. Bennett.