Two Christian bakers from Oregon who are fighting a financial penalty for their shop's refusal to make a same-sex wedding cake nine years ago have asked the Supreme Court again to overturn a state decision they claim violates their religious rights.
"It's been almost 10 years at this point," Stephanie Taub, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, told Fox News Digital. "The state has violated the clients' rights, and we're asking for the Supreme Court to grant a full and final victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein."
Aaron and Melissa Klein, who ran the "Sweet Cakes by Melissa" bakery in Gresham, Oregon, refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding in 2013, citing their Christian religious beliefs. They were forced to close their shop after Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) ordered them to pay a $135,000 judgment to the lesbian couple for discriminating against them in violation of a state public accommodations statute.
They were also slapped with a gag order forbidding them from publishing or displaying anything "of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation."
Following multiple appeals, the Supreme Court kicked the case back to Oregon in 2019 for further consideration in light of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which held that government officials cannot be hostile to the free exercise of citizens' religious beliefs.
In January 2022, the Oregon Court of Appeals determined that BOLI demonstrated anti-religious hostility and struck down the $135,000 damages award, citing a violation of the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause. The appeals court then sent the case back to BOLI, which reduced the damage award from $135,000 to $30,000 in July.
Attorneys for the Kleins announced Thursday that they have petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case again, arguing that the commission violated the Kleins' constitutional rights by not providing them due process and effectively compelling speech that violates their religious beliefs.
"If you look at what happened here, the state agency that acted as prosecutor, judge and jury in this case, was biased against Aaron and Melissa's faith," said Taub. "The Oregon Court itself concluded that the agency violated their free speech rights because it did not act neutrally toward religion."
"So even the Oregon courts have acknowledged that bias," Taub continued. "And that should have been the end of the case. But instead, the Oregon court sent the case back to the very same biased agency for further proceedings."
BOLI told Fox News Digital that "the Bureau of Labor and Industries generally does not comment on ongoing litigation."
Taub said the Kleins and their attorney remain "optimistic" about the ultimate outcome of the case. "It's been a long time," she said. "They are looking to start over in a new state. They're no longer in Oregon, and hopefully they'll be starting a new bakery soon."