The Supreme Court granted a narrow victory to people of faith on Monday, holding 7-2 that the Constitution did not allow the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to order Christian baker Jack Phillips to bake a wedding cake for same-sex weddings because a commissioner said Phillips’ Christian beliefs on marriage were “despicable,” Breitbart reports.
The narrow ruling focused on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips.
“The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Justice Anthony Kennedy
The Trump administration agreed with Phillips’ legal claims to a large extent. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in October issued broad guidance to executive branch agencies, reiterating the government should respect religious freedom, which in the Justice Department’s eyes extends to people, businesses and organizations.
At issue was a July 2012 encounter. At the time, Charlie Craig and David Mullins of Denver visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to buy a custom-made wedding cake. Phillips refused his services when told it was for a same-sex couple. The state civil rights commission sanctioned Phillips after a formal complaint from the gay couple, FOX News reports.
Attorney Michael Farris, president of the Alliance Defending Freedom which represented the baker, told Fox News that Phillips is “ecstatic” at the decision.
“Justice Kennedy has held that tolerance is a two-way street, and Jack Phillips was not tolerated by the Civil Rights Commission of Colorado,” he said.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Syllabus MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, LTD., ET AL. v.
COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF COLORADO
(a) The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression. See Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. S.
“The reason and motive for the baker’s refusal were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions. The Court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws,” Kennedy wrote. “Still, the delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself would not be a factor in the balance the State sought to reach.”
Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the conservative justices in the outcome. Kagan wrote separately to emphasize the limited ruling.
But Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, of course.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.
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