The Supreme Court may soon have to rule against the Christian baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, if a panel of justices on Thursday upholds a lower court ruling.
The case involves an Illinois baker who said he could not make a cake for the couple because it was religious and a lawsuit filed by a state lawmaker who claimed the law discriminated against Christians.
The bakery owners argue the state law is a violation of their religious freedom.
In the past, the Supreme Courts has ruled that the Constitution protects religious freedom when a person is subjected to the government’s government action for religious reasons.
But in recent years, the justices have largely been less willing to support that argument in cases involving religious practices.
Last year, the court struck down a state law that limited the practice of religion.
The ruling in the case involving the case is the first time the court has ruled on the issue.
The Supreme Court will decide whether the baker who was found to be violating the law could be prosecuted under the First Amendment, or whether the state has to prove a specific motive to discriminate.
The baker faces a possible $1 million fine.
“We have to get this right,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA.
“The government has to have a legitimate interest in advancing a secular interest.”
The case centers on a baker who made a cake with the words “We will not bake a cake that celebrates same-sex unions,” according to a lawsuit in the Illinois state Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs allege the law violates their religious beliefs and are seeking a temporary restraining order.
The ruling was handed down in the spring after a three-week hearing.
The state argued the cake is not a government endorsement of same-gender relationships, and the plaintiffs were not claiming a violation.
The court agreed, saying the cake was not a religious endorsement and the baker was not trying to encourage or advance same-sexual relationships.
The justices did not rule on whether the law violated the First or Fourteenth Amendments, but they agreed that the state must show a government interest in promoting or encouraging a particular religious belief.
They also agreed with the plaintiffs that the government could not compel the baker to change his business practices and also that there is no compelling state interest that is at stake in this case.
The judges also ruled that a federal judge should have given the baker an exemption from the law that allows businesses to refuse service to people for reasons of their own choosing.
The government did not ask for a blanket exemption from a state or federal law, but it did ask the court to order the baker’s bakery to provide a “reasoned accommodation” for its customers, which the judge said could include giving customers a choice of whether they would like to participate in a same-faith wedding.
“This is not about religious liberty,” the court said in its opinion.
“It is about ensuring that all Americans have a right to practice their faith in a manner that is consistent with their religious practices.”
A federal judge in Illinois earlier this year sided with the bakery owners, saying it was an overreach by the state to compel a religious accommodation.
The U.S. Supreme Court, meanwhile, is considering a challenge to California’s law that requires employers to allow transgender people to use bathrooms consistent with the gender on their birth certificate.