Masterpiece Cakeshop Wins Supreme Court Decision

J. Scott Applewhite  Associated Press file		The US Supreme Court building

Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who declined to create a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, has today won his case at the US Supreme Court.

The evangelical community declared the 7-2 decision a win for religious freedom, while the LGBTQ community said the decision allows for future discrimination.

"When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires", Kennedy writes. He runs his business guided by religious principles, closing on Sunday and refusing to make cakes containing alcohol or celebrating Halloween. Dissenting in the ruling was U.S. Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was joined by U.S. Associate Justice Sonia Sotamayor.

In July 2012, Mr Mullins and Mr Craig went to Mr Phillips' Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, near Denver, to order a cake to celebrate their planned marriage in MA later that year. The government can not treat a person's religious beliefs with hostility, he wrote, yet that's what the Commission did here, and this is what led to Kagan's concurrence. But most of the justices did agree with the baker that his religious freedom was violated, and that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was "hostile" to his faith.

"In this case and others, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the free speech and religious freedom First Amendment rights of all Americans", Sessions said in a statement.

When the justices heard arguments in December, Kennedy was plainly bothered by comments by a commission member.

In the end, the decision was modest enough to attract the votes of liberal and conservative justices on a subject that had the potential for sharp division.




University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laylock, who successfully argued the Hialeah case, said the 1993 case is the most important case involving the Free Exercise Clause, which protects First Amendment rights, so he was not surprised the court cited it.

The case began back in 2012 when couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins visited Phillips' Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their wedding, and were told that Phillips would not bake them a cake based on his religious belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

This was really the issue that Kagan was getting at; not that Phillips was necessarily justified in denying service to a gay couple, but that the State of Colorado was just plain wrong in how they handled the matter.

"It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, honest conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned", Kennedy wrote in 2015.

"Phillips would not sell to Craig and Mullins, for no reason other than their sexual orientation, a cake of the kind he regularly sold to others", Justice Ginsburg wrote.

That law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

But the Supreme Court's verdict ruled that the Colorado commission had been biased against Mr Phillips.

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