A Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony should not be forced to violate his religious beliefs, his attorney told a judge deciding whether the cake-maker should be made to accommodate gay couples. But an attorney representing a gay couple countered Wednesday that the baker's faith doesn't give him a right to discriminate.
At issue in the complaint from David Mullins and Charlie Craig against Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver is whether religious freedom can protect a business from discrimination allegations from gay couples.
Mullins and Craig wanted to buy a cake last year, but when one of the shop owners, Jack Phillips, found out the cake was to celebrate a gay wedding, he turned the couple of away and cited his religious faith.
"(His) faith, whatever it may have to say about marriage for same-sex couples or the expressive power of a wedding cake, does not give the respondents a license to discriminate," Amanda Goad, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told an administrative judge in Colorado's Civil Rights Commission.
Phillips' attorney, Nicolle Martin, said her client shouldn't be forced to ignore his Christian faith while running the business he's had for nearly 40 years. She said Phillips feels "privileged to design and create the cakes that celebrate the joyous events of people's lives."
The man charged with killing a Transportation Security Administration officer and wounding two other agents and a civilian during a shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport made his first court appearance Wednesday, still showing signs of the gunshot wounds suffered when he was arrested.
Paul Ciancia hadn't been seen in public since the Nov. 1 attack that created chaos at one of the nation's busiest airports and affected air travel around the country.
The 23-year-old spoke in whispers and showed no emotion during the 10-minute hearing in the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, about 45 miles east of Los Angeles. He's being housed at the facility in federal custody.
U.S. Magistrate Judge David Bristow asked the diminutive, slender Ciancia if he understood the charges against him.
"Yes," responded Ciancia, who was shackled at his hands and feet and had a bandage on his neck and bruises on the left side of his face.
His lawyers didn't comment on his injuries.
Airport police responding to the rampage shot Ciancia four times, including once in the mouth. He was hospitalized for more than two weeks before being placed in federal custody.
On perhaps the busiest online shopping day of the year, the Supreme Court refused to wade into a dispute over state sales taxes for purchases on websites like Amazon.com, an outcome likely to prompt more states to attempt to collect taxes on Internet sales.
Monday's court action means "it might be the last Cyber Monday without sales tax," said Joseph Henchman of the Washington -based Tax Foundation.
It's all part of a furious battle -- also including legislation in Congress -- among Internet sellers, millions of buyers, aggrieved brick-and-mortar stores and states hungry for billions of dollars in extra tax revenue.
The high court without comment turned away appeals from Amazon.com LLC and Overstock.com Inc. in their fight against a New York court decision forcing them to remit sales tax the same way in-state businesses do. This could hurt online shopping in that state, since one of the attractions of Internet purchasing is the lack of a state sales tax, which makes some items a little cheaper than they would be inside a store on the corner.
And the effect could be felt far beyond New York if it encourages other states to act. The National Council of State Legislatures estimates that states lost an estimated $23.3 billion in 2012 as a result of being unable to collect sales tax on online and catalog purchases.
The court's refusal "allows states that have passed laws like New York's to continue doing what they've been doing," said Neal Osten, director of the Council's Washington office.
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider throwing out New York state's taxes on Internet purchases on websites like Amazon.com, a move that could change the way Internet commerce works.
The high court refused without comment to hear appeals from Amazon.com LLC and Overstock.com Inc., in their fights against a state law that forces them to remit sales tax the same way in-state businesses do.
Web retailers generally have not had to charge sales taxes in states where they lack a store or some other physical presence. But New York and other states say that a retailer has a physical presence when it uses affiliates — people and businesses that refer customers to the retailer's website and collect a commission on sales. These affiliates range from one-person blogs promoting the latest gadgets to companies that run coupon and deal sites.
Amazon and Overstock both use affiliate programs. Amazon has been collecting sales tax in New York as it fights the state over a 2008 law that was the first to consider local affiliates enough of an in-state presence to require sales tax collection. Overstock ended its affiliate program in 2008 after the law passed.
The Supreme Court refusal to hear the websites' appeal likely will prompt more and more states to attempt to collect taxes from website purchases. Around 20 states, including New York, already have similar laws on the books. The National Council of State Legislatures estimated that states lost an estimated $23.3 billion in 2012 from being prohibited from collecting sales tax from online and catalog purchases.
The Supreme Court has turned away a Christian university's attempt to overturn a key part of the Obama administration's health care law.
The justices did not comment Monday in leaving in place a federal appeals court ruling dismissing Liberty University's lawsuit.
Liberty made several arguments in challenging the portion of the health care law that requires most employers to provide health insurance to their workers or pay a fine. The 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Richmond, Va., rejected those claims.
The Supreme Court separately is considering whether for-profit corporations can mount religious objections to the law's requirement to include birth control among preventive health benefits.