Supreme Court rules in favor of baker who refused to make wedding cake for gay couple
The justices, in a 7-2 decision signed by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission exhibited a hostility towards baker Jack Philips' religion.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a custom wedding cake for a gay couple.
Jack Philips had refused service to couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012, saying that it went against his religious beliefs to serve a same-sex couple.
The justices, in a 7-2 decision signed by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission exhibited a hostility towards Phillips' religion when it found that the baker violated the state's anti-discrimination law by refusing the couple, reports state. The Colorado state law bars businesses from refusing service to people based on their race, sex, sexual orientation or marital status.
The apex court's decision stated that Philips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, did not violate the state's anti-discrimination law.
The majority opinion stated: "The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views, in some instances protected forms of expression."
The Supreme Court's ruling also slammed the comments made during the Colorado commission's hearing which denigrated Phillips' faith and remarked that the baker citing his religion as grounds to discrimination was similar to past instances when religious freedom was used to justify discrimination like slavery and the Holocaust, according to reports.
"This sentiment is inappropriate for a commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law — a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation,” Justice Kennedy said during the ruling.
“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,” Kennedy wrote in the decision.
There were two justices on the panel — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor — who dissented with the ruling.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also commented on the ruling and said that the Supreme Court's decision shows the First Amendment bars the government from discriminating over a person’s religious beliefs.
Sessions, in a statement, said: "The Supreme Court rightly concluded that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to show tolerance and respect for Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs. 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."
The conservative baker's lawyer, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom Kristen Waggoner, lauded the court's decision in a statement and said: "Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack’s religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that."
The Campaign for Southern Equality, a civil rights advocacy group, said that the court did not rule that there is a right to for people to discriminate and added that the ruling does not apply to business in other states. The group also added that neither did the Supreme Court's decision invalidate anti-discrimination laws which protect the LGBTQ across the country, according to the New York Post.
The group's executive director, Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, in a statement said: "Here in the South, we see daily evidence of the growing support for LGBTQ equality, even as we continue to face discriminatory laws. We will continue to fight for full equality — and nothing less."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented the gay couple — Mullins and Craig — said that the court's ruling affirms that businesses cannot discriminate.
ACLU deputy legal director Louise Melling said: "The court reversed the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision based on concerns unique to the case but reaffirmed its longstanding rule that states can prevent the harms of discrimination in the marketplace, including against LGBT people."