Supreme Court rules for Colorado baker in "gay wedding" cake case

Arturo Kim
June 5, 2018

Justice Anthony Kennedy says in his majority opinion that the issue "must await further elaboration".

The ruling in favor of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, is a landmark decision that gives more power to those wishing to discriminate against the LGBT community and others by citing their faith.

"I didn't want to use my artistic talents to create something that went against my Christian faith", he said in an interview with CNN a year ago, noting that he has also declined to make cakes to celebrate Halloween.

"Homophobic forces will purposefully over-interpret the ruling and challenge existing non-discrimination laws by refusing service to LGBTQ people. denying them dinner at a restaurant, lodging at a hotel, or renting an apartment", Parker said in a statement. The two men were going to be married in MA, and they were looking for a wedding cake for a reception in Colorado. The justices voted 7-2 that the commission violated Phillips' rights under the First Amendment.

He appealed the state's decision, but lost in the Colorado courts.

"The official expressions of hostility to religion in some of the commissioners' comments-comments that were not disavowed at the Commission or by the State at any point in the proceedings that led to affirmance of the order-were inconsistent with what the Free Exercise Clause requires", Kennedy's opinion stated.

That same sentiment pervaded his opinion on Monday (local time). Kagan wrote separately to emphasise the limited ruling.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a dissent, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which sided with them.

The Trump administration also intervened in the case, filing an amicus brief urging the court to side with Phillips.

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But the justices did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views.

The case concerned the plight of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to bake a number of different kinds of cakes, based on his religious principles.

The government can not impose regulations hostile to citizens' religious beliefs, the ruling said. However, cake design is inherently expressive, "a message telling all who see it that this event is a wedding and that it is an occasion for celebration".

Phillips was at his shop Monday morning, where he was busy answering the phone and getting congratulations from his supporters in person, including his pastor.

One woman brought him a bouquet of flowers and others hugged him.

"The broad rule that the bakery was looking for here was that it had a license to discriminate", said James Essex, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Court found that Colorado's Civil Rights Commission, which enforces discrimination policy, operated in a manner at odds with religious tolerance.

Which Justices disagreed with the ruling?

Phillips believes that same-sex marriages are sinful, that marriage is to be between a man and a woman.

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