Baker wins Supreme Court case over gay wedding cake

Baker wins Supreme Court case over gay wedding cake

The baker, Colorado-based business owner Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, initially refused to create a custom wedding reception cake for a same-sex couple on the grounds of his own personal religious beliefs.

"The Commission's treatment of Phillips' case violated the State's duty under the First Amendment not to base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint", the majority says.

In his writing, Kennedy denounced one commissioner having brought up slavery and the Holocaust before blasting Phillips' religious freedom claim as a "despicable piece of rhetoric" to "use their religion to hurt others".

Kennedy said the case presents hard questions about reconciling two principles: the authority of states to protect the rights and dignity of gay people who seek goods and services for their weddings, and the rights of people to free speech and free exercise of religion.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the two dissenting votes.

The justices, in a 7-2 decision, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an impermissible hostility toward religion when it found that baker Jack Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012.

While the court sided with Phillips in this case, Kennedy warned it could come to a different conclusion in similar future cases.

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Arguments were heard on December 5.

Waggoner said Phillips is "relieved" at the court's decision and that he will be working with the Alliance Defending Freedom to determine when to move forward to continue making wedding cakes. The court said that in this specific incident the commission in Colorado was guilty of religious bias.

"Phillips would not sell to Craig and Mullins, for no reason other than their sexual orientation, a cake of the kind he regularly sold to others", Justice Ginsburg wrote. Phillips refused his services when told it was for a same-sex couple. Kennedy cited comments by a member of the state commission who had said that religion was often used a basis for bigotry. Courts have routinely turned down the business owners, as the Colorado Court of Appeals did in the Phillips case, saying that state anti-discrimination laws require businesses that are open to the public to treat all potential customers equally. This, Kennedy said, amounted to a violation of the free exercise of religion.

The Court recognized the need to protect gay people from discrimination and equal access to goods and services, but noted that when it comes to marriage, there are significant religious concerns that in other cases are perfectly clear.

"The government, consistent with the Constitution's guarantee of free exercise, can not impose regulations that are hostile to the religious beliefs of affected citizens and can not act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices", Kennedy added.

Every Supreme Court term, there is at least one case that gets people's blood up.

Do bakers have a First Amendment right to refuse to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, even if there's a state law banning sexual orientation discrimination by such businesses? State courts sided with the couple, prompting Phillips to appeal to the top USA court.

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