Supreme Court rules for Colorado baker in “gay wedding” cake case
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake to celebrate the marriage of a same sex couple because of a religious objections.
The ruling was 7-2.
The court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility toward the baker based on his religious beliefs. The ruling is a win for baker Jack Phillips but leaves unsettled the broader constitutional questions the case presented.
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.
The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, is not the wide-ranging ruling on religious liberty that some expected. It is tailored to the case at hand with the justices holding that members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed animus toward Phillips specifically when they suggested his claims of religious freedom was made to justify discrimination.
“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 wrote in his majority opinion. That opinion expressed respect for those with religious objections to gay marriage. “Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” he wrote Monday.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined on the decision. Justices Elana Kagan and Justice Steven Breyer also co-wrote concurring opinions. Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Samuel Alito co-wrote their concurring opinions. Justice Clarence Thomas also wrote his own concurring opinion.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent which was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, argued that “when a couple contacts a bakery for a wedding cake, the product they are seeking is a cake celebrating their wedding — not a cake celebrating heterosexual weddings or same-sex weddings — and that is the service (the couple) were denied.”
The entire decision can be found on the Supreme Court website: