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Law Day CLE: Post-Masterpiece Cakeshop: Anti-discrimination Law and Freedom of Speech and Religion

May 2@12:00 pm-1:00 pm

Presenter: Mike Steenson, Bell Distinguished Professor of Law, Mitchell Hamline School of Law

The Supreme Court’s opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 138 S. Ct. 1719 (2018), is not by any means the culmination of the collision of religious beliefs and anti-discrimination laws, but really just the beginning. The Court’s seemingly narrow resolution of the case based on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s hostility to master baker Jack Phillips’ free exercise claim is not likely to provide a ready basis for resolving the conflicts that arise when service providers seemingly violate anti-discrimination laws by refusing to provide certain services because of the sexual orientation of their potential customers, in substantial part because of the large shadow that compelled speech doctrine casts over these cases. The free speech claim is a different matter. Justice Thomas concluded in a concurring opinion that requiring Phillips to design a cake constitutes compelled speech. Because the regulation is content-based, so the argument goes, strict scrutiny applies. The compelled speech issue is a key to determining how free speech rights are balanced against the State’s interest in enforcing anti-discrimination laws.

Time: 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Location: Room 40, Ramsey County District Courthouse, 15 W Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul
Registration: 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Credit: 1.0 standard CLE credit approved
Cost: FREE for RCBA members; $10 non-members
Teleconference Cost: FREE for RCBA members; $10 non-members

The public may attend at no charge.

Attendees are invited to tour the Ramsey County Law Library on the 18thfloor of the courthouse, following the CLE presentation.

Instructions for accessing the teleconference will be sent prior to the CLE. If you have any questions, please email us at info@ramseybar.org or call 651-222-0846.

This CLE is a collaboration of the Ramsey County Bar Association and the Ramsey County Law Library.  We are especially grateful for Professor Steenson’s participation in this event.


*On May 1, we observe “Law Day”—our country’s tribute to the rule of law. While Law Day is officially designated for May 1, activities around the country typically take place all during the month of May.   In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day for national dedication to the principles of government under law. Law Day was also endorsed by the American Bar Association which has embraced the celebration and promoted its observance.

2019 Law Day Theme: Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society