December 5, 2017 at 4:41 pm PST | by Chris Johnson
VIDEO: White House: Trump backs ‘religious liberty’ in Cakeshop case

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump backs the U.S. solicitor general in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Hours after oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case concluded Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump backs the position articulated by the U.S. Justice Department that bakers should be able to put up signs saying they won’t serve gays.

Sanders made the comments in response to a question from the New York Times on whether Trump backs the view posed by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco during his first time in that role presenting arguments before the Supreme Court.

“The president certainly supports religious liberty, and that’s something that he talked during the campaign and since upheld since taking office,” Sanders said.

When the New York Times sought to clarify whether Trump’s support for religious liberty applies to the first question on whether he agrees with the solicitor general, Sanders replied, “I believe that would include that.”

Francisco volunteered to speak before the Supreme Court on behalf of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who’s seeking a First Amendment right to deny wedding cakes to same-sex couples despite a state law barring anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations.

When U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who gave conflicting signals during the arguments on how he would rule, asked Francisco if a ruling in his favor would allow shop owners to put up signs declaring they won’t serve gay people, the solicitor general indicated that would be the case.

“I think that he could say he does not make custom-made wedding cakes for gay weddings, but most cakes would not cross that threshold,” Francisco said.

Sanders’ response that Trump backs the religious liberty claims made by the Justice Department stands in contrast to the response from U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who under questioning from the Washington Blade seemed unaware of the lawsuit and refused to comment.

“I haven’t given any thought to it,” Ryan said. “I’ve got nothing for you.”


Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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