There’s some refreshing news from Washington, D.C. today, as the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who has endured several years of persecution from “the tolerant left” after he declined to bake a cake for a gay wedding in 2012.
The gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, had been married in Massachusetts, but were planning a reception in Colorado, where gay marriage was not even legal in 2012. The couple sued, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled in their favor; state courts later affirmed the Commission’s judgment, Reuters reports.
Two of the court’s four liberals, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, joined the five conservative justices in the ruling.
The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held 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 case was one of the most anticipated rulings of the term and was considered by some as a follow up from the court’s decision three years ago to clear the way for same-sex marriage nationwide. That opinion, also written by Kennedy, expressed respect for those with religious objections to gay marriage.
Kennedy wrote that there is room for religious tolerance, pointing specifically to how the Colorado commission treated Phillips by downplaying his religious liberty concerns.
“At the same time the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression,” Kennedy wrote, adding that the “neutral consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised here.”
“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 said, adding to say that the case was narrow.
It has become a sad trend in America over the past few years to sue Christian bakers, photographers, and florists who decline to lend their artistic talents to gay weddings. In our times, when the liberal left is ready to brand anyone a “homophobe,” “racist,” or “sexist” at the drop of a hat, it is no surprise that such conservatives have become such targets. It makes no difference to the leftist crusaders that these business owners have long histories of serving homosexual customers.
“Jack serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held beliefs,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who represented Phillips, said in a statement. “Creative professionals who serve all people should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment.”
CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck reflects:
Today’s decision is remarkably narrow, and leaves for another day virtually all of the major constitutional questions that this case presented. It’s hard to see the decision setting a precedent.
While the Court overturned the previous ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the justices’ decision hinged upon concerns unique to this case—namely the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s blatant anti-conservative bias. The Court also “reaffirmed its longstanding rule that states can prevent the harms of discrimination in the marketplace, including against LGBT people,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, highlighting the narrowness of the opinion.
Justice Kennedy writes,
The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.
“These disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs”—in a time when traditional, conservative morality is ever-increasingly under attack, and men in dresses can legally stroll into a women’s bathroom and relieve himself next to little girls, such words from the nation’s highest court are more than welcome.