Bake the Cake? Or Bake the Cake! Potential Resolutions to Business Discrimination

Bake the Cake? Or Bake the Cake! Potential Resolutions to Business Discrimination

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes
Abstract

The question of whether goods and service providers ought to be permitted to decline to conduct business with potential customers was recently put to the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018). The case raises questions over whether intentionally discriminatory business practices ought to be permitted in narrowly defined circumstances. The owner declined to bake the cake for a gay wedding, citing religious objections. A complaint was then filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case study evaluates the advantages and drawbacks of two primary means of resolving the conflict, state directed and market-based.

The operating assumptions and incentive structures differ between the two institutionally informed arrangements. The former (i.e. the state) barters in votes and political capital, the latter (i.e. ...

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