The Supreme Court ruled today in favor of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom cake for a same-sex couple because he believed that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. This was one of the most anticipated decisions of the term, and it was relatively narrow: Although Phillips prevailed today, the opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy rested largely on the majority’s conclusion that the Colorado administrative agency that ruled against Phillips treated him unfairly by being too hostile to his sincere religious beliefs. The opinion seemed to leave open the possibility that, in a future case, a service provider’s sincere religious beliefs might have to yield to the state’s interest in protecting the rights of same-sex couples, and the majority did not rule at all on one of the central arguments in the case – whether compelling Phillips to bake a cake for a same-sex couple would violate his right to freedom of speech.It's kind of a weird decision,
The dispute that led to today’s ruling began back in 2012, when Charlie Craig and David Mullins went to Masterpiece Cakeshop, a bakery outside Denver, to order a cake to celebrate their upcoming wedding. But Jack Phillips, the owner of the bakery and a devout Christian, refused the couple’s request because he is not willing to design custom cakes that conflict with his religious beliefs. A Colorado civil-rights agency ruled that Phillips had violated the state’s antidiscrimination laws and told him that, if he wanted to make cakes for opposite-sex weddings, he would have to do the same for same-sex weddings. After a Colorado court upheld that ruling, Phillips went to the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
Here, Kennedy wrote, Phillips “was entitled to a neutral decisionmaker who would give full and fair consideration to his religious objection as he sought to assert it in all of the circumstances in which this case was presented, considered, and decided.” Because he did not have such a proceeding, the court concluded, the commission’s order – which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports – “must be set aside.”
05 June 2018
The Supreme Court ruled for the bigoted baker, but only in extremely narrow terms, basically saying that the Colorado Civil Rights commission was actively hostile throughout the proceedings, and they did not make a broader ruling: