In 2018, the Supreme Court decided Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civ Rights Com in favor of a baker who refused service to a same-sex couple due to his religious beliefs. This article examines the behavioral effect of this decision in a field experiment (N=1,155 businesses) that measured discrimination towards same-sex couples in the field of wedding services shortly before and after Masterpiece. I find that Masterpiece significantly reduced the agreement to provide services to same-sex couples as compared with heterosexual couples, even among vendors that provided this service before the decision. These results discredit the argument that religious exemptions will not expand discrimination. Instead, the Masterpiece experiment shows that even exemptions can have a significant and robust, even if inadvertent impact on a market and its customers. I discuss how an empirical approach to rights conflicts can guide legislatures and courts that deliberate how to navigate these conflicts.
We look forward to welcoming you on July 3-5, 2023 for our Annual Conference entitled "Islands and Ocean: Public Law in a Plural World." The conference will take place at the Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand. We will be announcing more details about the conference soon, including financial support to early career and global south scholars!