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

05 June, 2018, 04:59 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Supreme court rules in favor of baker in same-sex wedding cake case

"In Hialeah, you could kill animals for all sorts of secular reasons; in this case, bakers who didn't want to make cakes opposing same-sex marriage were exempt, but bakers who refused to make cakes in support were not".

"This little case was shaping up to become a vehicle that would finally resolve a cardinal question of constitutional law: whether or not the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause could be used to undermine decades of nondiscrimination law and subject gay people to the constant threat of humiliation in the public marketplace", Stern wrote. They did not discuss any message or distinguishing element that would have made their cake different from that of any other cake Phillips might bake for any other couple celebrating their union.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor cast the lone dissents.

"Same-sex couples in Washington state will continue to enjoy protections against discrimination, and I will continue to enforce our state's law against discrimination", he said in a statement.

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Phillips had refused to bake the couple's wedding cake due to his religious beliefs against gay marriage. Phillips told them he would not create a case for a same-sex wedding.

The case is Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Indeed, Kennedy did write the opinion, but it wasn't a close decision, with liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer joining him in what turned out to be a 7-2 decision.

The ruling means that some business owners can not be successfully sued for refusing on religious grounds to provide services to same-sex couples, even in the 22 states with human rights laws, similar to Colorado's, that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Religious liberty organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has been supporting Phillips, welcomed the decision saying the court had protected his "ability to live and work consistent with his beliefs".

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The commissioner seemed "neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs", Kennedy said in December. The couple won in state and appeals courts as well before the decision was reversed by the SCOTUS.

Colorado law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the commission concluded that Phillips' refusal violated the law, despite Phillips' argument that he is opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

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

Craig and Mullins said Phillips discriminated against them and violated their civil rights. Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority opinions in both cases.

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Last year, President Donald Trump's administration weighed in on the side of Phillips, as the Justice Department filed a brief arguing that his First Amendment right of free expression had been violated. The state can't use its own assessment of offensiveness to justify the disparity between those cases and Phillips' case, Kennedy said.

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