Symposium: Conscience, conditions, and access to civil society

SCOTUSblog

Richard Garnett*

It is striking how easy it has become for a person to stumble into the status of a symbol – or, these days, a viral meme. Jack Phillips is, or was until fairly recently, a skilled cake artist with a small business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in suburban Denver. Today, he is a litigant in the Supreme Court of the United States and regarded by many as embodying the tension – increasingly, the conflict – between religious conscience and equality. . . Can he be required, though – should he be required, is it necessary for him to be required – to say something he thinks is not true, to disavow what he believes or to act expressively in violation of his conscience? . . . [Full text]

In US Supreme Court Brief, Christian Doctors Cite Conscience Conflicts Similar to Creative Artists

News Release

Christian Medical Association

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2017 – The nation’s largest faith-based professional association of health professionals, the Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org), contends in a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court that its members’ conscience battles parallel those of creative artists sued for declining to participate in proceedings inconsistent with their conscience and convictions.

CMA has filed a brief with the Court in the case (Masterpiece Bakeshops v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission) of Jack Phillips, a cake artist sued for declining to participate in a same-sex wedding, an event that contradicts his moral persuasions. CMA contends in its brief that health professionals face similar challenges to their First Amendment freedoms in situations involving abortion and other matters involving ethical choices and professional medical judgment.

The brief contends, “To force Mr. Phillips to make this cake would threaten a core liberty that is of the greatest possible importance to medical professionals – protection against compelled speech contrary to conscience, including purely symbolic expression. [T]he implications for the rights of medical professionals in the practice of their professions are clear, and disturbing.”

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens commented, “This case reminds us that a threat to the First Amendment freedoms of one group is a threat to the First Amendment freedoms of everyone. Regardless of where one stands on controversial issues, as Americans we can all agree that the government cannot be allowed to compel any one of us to express ourselves in a way that violates our deepest held beliefs.

“Preserving freedom of medical judgment for doctors is an essential protection for patients. Imagine if the government were to dictate every medical decision and decide every medical prescription and procedure apart from the medical judgment of the doctors who know and care for their patients best.”

Contact:

Margie Shealy, Christian Medical Association, 423-341-4254