The Oregon Court of Appeals judge who authored the opinion upholding the state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation has been appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Chris Garrett, a former Lake Oswego lawmaker, was appointed Christmas Eve by Gov. Kate Brown to succeed Justice Rives Kistler. Kistler is retiring.

“Judge Garrett has quickly earned a reputation as an intellectual leader of the Court of Appeals,” said Kate Kondayen, Brown’s press secretary.

A year ago, Garrett wrote the opinion upholding enforcement of the state’s antidiscrimination law against Melissa and Aaron Klein, Gresham bakery owners, who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple in 2013 based on their religious objections.

Garrett wrote that baking a cake for any customer requires “compliance with a neutral law.” Refusing to do so because of a customer’s sexual orientation violates the state’s antidiscrimination law and curtails their right to free speech, according to the opinion.

The case drew national headlines in part for the severity of the fine against the bakers but also as a milestone for gay rights.

The Kleins were ordered to pay $135,000 to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer in 2015 after the state Bureau of Labor and Industries found the bakers violated the state anti-discrimination law.

Garrett’s appointment is effective Jan. 1.

“He brings to our high court the experience of a respected civil litigator, an effective state legislator and a productive appellate judge. His brilliant mind and collegial style will be tremendous assets to the court and the people of Oregon,” Brown said in announcing his pick.

Garrett is Brown’s fifth Supreme Court appointment. She appointed Lynn Nakamoto, the court’s first Asian Pacific American, in 2015, Meagan Flynn and Rebecca Duncan, whose appointment gave the court its first female majority, both in 2017, and Adrienne Nelson, the court’s first African American, in January 2018,

Kondayen said Garrett would be the only justice who served as a state legislator.

His background in the Legislature “provides important perspective on the court’s cases that interpret legislation and adjudicate the separation of powers,” she said.

Garrett was appointed to the Court of Appeals by then-Gov. John Kitzhaber in 2014. He served as a state representative from Lake Oswego and southwest Portland from 2009 to 2013.

He brokered a bipartisan redistricting plan and championed a state law to keep people out of prison and in social and support services.

He was a civil attorney at Perkins Coie LLP in Portland and previously worked as a private lawyer in New York from 2000 to 2001.

He graduated from Reed College and the University of Chicago Law School.

He teaches as an adjunct professor at Willamette University College of Law and volunteers as a judge for the Classroom Law Project.

Paris Achen: pachen@portlandtribune.com or 503-506-0067. Achen is a reporter for the Portland Tribune working for the Oregon Capital Bureau, a collaboration of EO Media Group, Pamplin Media Group and Salem Reporter.

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