June 4, 2018

Catholic Medical Association Celebrates U.S. Supreme Court’s Defense of Conscience Rights in Colorado Cake Baker Case

PHILADELPHIA, PA – June 4, 2018 –  Calling it a victory for conscience rights, today the Catholic Medical Association, (CMA) praised the Supreme Court’s decision supporting a Christian Colorado baker who refused for religious reasons to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Last December the CMA joined the Alliance Defending Freedom, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Colorado Catholic Conference, the Catholic Bar Association, the National Association of Catholic Nurses-U.S.A. and the National Catholic Bioethics Center signing onto an amicus brief supporting the baker, Jack Phillips defending his conscience rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The brief cited consciousness objection under the First Amendment protecting citizens Freedom of Speech and Religion.

“Today’s high court decision sends a strong message that government cannot force individuals or organizations to violate their First Amendment Rights to free speech and religious beliefs, said CMA President Peter T. Morrow M.D. “We are encouraged by the Supreme Court’s decision that our members conscience rights will also be protected especially when it comes to cases involving respect for human life.”

In a 7-2 decision the justices faulted the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s handling of the claims brought against Jack Phillips, saying it had shown a hostility to religion, violating his religious rights under the First Amendment. However, the court did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views.

The Civil Rights Commission claimed Phillips violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law that bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

“The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Kennedy wrote, referring to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In September the CMA was one of thirty-two major pro-life, religious, and healthcare organizations to sign a letter to Congress urging the passage of the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644/S. 301). In January the Trump Administration created a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within Health and Human Services Civil Rights Division to protect healthcare professionals moral or religious objections. The department will protect those from retribution who refuse to participate in procedures they found objectionable such as abortion or euthanasia.

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