The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 today in support of a Christian Colorado baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. (full pdf below) The majority of the justices’ decision revolved around the severity of anti-religious bias displayed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it originally ruled against the baker Jack Phillips. According to the ruling the commission violated Mr. Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment.
The court did not rule upon whether Mr. Phillips held a first amendment right to refuse to bake the cake; the court ruled Mr. Phillips first amendment rights, religious liberty, was actually violated by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission itself. Much irony here.
Due to the severity of discrimination, exhibited by the Colorado Commission, against the first amendment right of the baker to hold and express Christianity as a foundational moral value, the Supreme court ruled against Colorado to support the rights of the Mr. Phillips.
(Via AP) […] Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the larger issue “must await further elaboration” in the courts. Appeals in similar cases are pending, including one at the Supreme Court from a florist who didn’t want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.
The disputes, Kennedy wrote, “must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” (read more from AP)
As Amy Howe summarized for SCOTUS Blog: […] “the critical question of when and how Phillips’ right to exercise his religion can be limited had to be determined, Kennedy emphasized, in a proceeding that was not tainted by hostility to religion. Here, Kennedy observed, the “neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised” by comments by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. At one hearing, Kennedy stressed, commissioners repeatedly “endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorado’s business community.” And at a later meeting, Kennedy pointed out, one commissioner “even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.” “This sentiment,” Kennedy admonished, “is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.” Moreover, Kennedy added, the commission’s treatment of Phillips’ religious objections was at odds with its rulings in the cases of bakers who refused to create cakes “with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage.”
Here, Kennedy wrote, Phillips “was entitled to a neutral decisionmaker who would give full and fair consideration to his religious objection as he sought to assert it in all of the circumstances in which this case was presented, considered, and decided.” Because he did not have such a proceeding, the court concluded, the commission’s order – which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports – “must be set aside.” (read more)
Here’s the full ruling: