Conference features Q&A with Masterpiece Cakeshop counsel

The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College’s upcoming conference “Most Sacred: Freedom of Conscience in America" features Kristen Waggoner, the attorney who took the Masterpiece Cakeshop case to the U.S. Supreme Court and won.

Waggoner, attorney and senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, will talk about “A Cakeshop, Florist, Pharmacy and More: The Court on Freedom of Conscience,” with Dr. John Sparks ’66, retired dean of the Calderwood School of Arts and Letters and longtime professor at Grove City College, at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 4 in Sticht Lecture Hall in the Hall of Arts and Letters on campus.

“I’m really looking forward to this discussion. Our students and those attending this conference will be getting a rare treat,” Dr. Paul Kengor, senior director and chief academic fellow for the Center and professor of Political Science, said.

“Kristen Waggoner has argued directly to the courts on the matter of the Constitution, conscience and religious liberty. It would be difficult to name, let alone find, an attorney doing more for freedom of conscience and faith than Kristen Waggoner. And John Sparks has long been an institution here at Grove City College. He’s studied, lectured on and written about the courts, the Constitution, conscience and religious liberty for decades. Countless students learned about faith and law from John Sparks.”

“This is Grove City College and The Center for Vision & Values at its best. This is the kind of unique and special thing that this College has long provided and continues to provide,” Kengor said.

Waggoner serves as senior vice president of U.S. legal division and communications with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she oversees a team of 100 attorneys and staff who engage in litigation, public advocacy and legislative support.

Since she assumed this role, ADF has prevailed as lead counsel in eight U.S. Supreme Court cases, including Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which she argued at the high court and won. She is lead counsel in another conscience case, Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington, and served as counsel for the free speech victory that the Supreme Court handed down in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.

Waggoner has extensive experience in civil litigation, employment, education, nonprofit, and constitutional law, and participated as counsel in hundreds of legal matters including constitutional cases centered on same sex marriage, pharmacists’ conscience rights, financial aid to students at religious schools and clergy-penitent privilege. She regularly comments on religious freedom issues in television, radio and print media.

Sparks, a fellow with the Center for Vision & Values, has written extensively about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case and other legal issues dealing with freedom of conscience. He recently co-wrote an authoritative piece in The Washington Post about why federal judicial nominees should not be subject to questions about their religious convictions.

“Most Sacred: Freedom of Conscience in America" runs April 4 and 5 on the campus of Grove City College. The conference will explore: What is freedom of conscience, properly understood? What is the tradition of conscientious objection, not just to Americans specifically but to Christians generally? What are its roots and applications from Biblical times to modern times? Who are its earliest martyrs and modern warriors? Which cases stand out and speak to us? Why is this a freedom worth preserving? And above all, how should we at Grove City College—an institution dedicated to faith and freedom, to the foundations of a faithful and free society, and to the mission of forming the very consciences of our students—respond to threats to freedom of conscience in today’s chaotic culture?

Other speakers include: Colleen Sheehan, co-director of the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University; Michael Medved, nationally syndicated radio talk show host; David French, senior writer at National Review; Ryan Anderson, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation and author of “When Harry Became Sally;” and Paul J. McNulty ’80, president of Grove City College.

For a complete schedule and to register for the conference, visit the website at

The Center for Vision & Values is a conservative think tank strengthening the faith and freedom foundation of American citizenship. Its mission is to promote those principles to the next generation of American leaders and to share them with the wider world. For more about the center, visit

Conference features Q&A with Masterpiece Cakeshop counsel

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