Judge Blocks $135K Fine For Christian Bakers, Fine Blocks “Free Exercise”

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday in favor of a pair of Christian bakers who had been fined for refusing to bake for a same-sex wedding.

Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein would be put out of business by the hefty state fine, but Wednesday’s ruling gives them new hope.

The court ruled that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), acted non-neutrally against the bakers’ religion when it fined them $135,000.

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The judge said the agency must reconsider their fine.

“Oregon is trying to have its cake and eat it, too,” said Stephanie Taub, Senior Counsel for First Liberty, the group representing the bakers. “The Court admits the state agency that acted as both prosecutor and judge in this case was biased against the Kleins’ faith. Yet, despite this anti-Christian bias that infected the whole case, the court is sending the case back to the very same agency for a do-over. Today’s opinion should have been the end of this ten year long saga.”

The judge ruled that the agency’s ruling violated the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution.

“[T]he prosecutor’s closing argument apparently equating the Kleins’ religious beliefs with ‘prejudice,’ together with the agency’s reasoning for imposing damages in connection with Aaron’s quotation of Leviticus, reflect that the agency acted in a way that passed judgment on the Kleins’ religious beliefs, something that is impermissible under Masterpiece Cakeshop,” the ruling reads.

The U.S. Supreme Court originally sent the case back to the Oregon courts to reconsider in light of its Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, where SCOTUS ruled in favor of the Christian business in a similar case.

“It’s time for the state of Oregon’s hostility toward Aaron and Melissa to end,” Taub said.

Want more? Check out Trish Regan’s podcast HERE.

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