Reuters is reporting breaking news that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Christian couple who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple (see our previous report on this case below)!
* Court says state panel violated baker’s religious rights
* Ruling was 7-2, with 2 liberals joining 5 conservatives (Adds details on 2012 incident that triggered the case, Kennedy quote)
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Colorado Christian baker who refused for religious reasons to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, stopping short of setting a major precedent allowing people to claim exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs.
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. The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
The ruling concluded that the commission violated Phillips’ religious rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
But the justices did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views. The decision also did not address important claims raised in the case including whether baking a cake is a kind of expressive act protected by the Constitution’s free speech guarantee.
Two of the court’s four liberals, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, joined the five conservative justices in the ruling authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also was the author of the landmark 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
“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.
But Kennedy also stressed the importance of gay rights while noting that litigation on similar issues is likely to continue in lower courts.
“Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” Kennedy wrote.
“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,” Kennedy added.
The case marked a test for Kennedy, who has authored significant rulings that advanced gay rights but also is a strong advocate for free speech rights and religious freedom.
Of the 50 states, 21 including Colorado have anti-discrimination laws protecting gay people.
The case pitted gay rights against religious liberty. President Donald Trump’s administration intervened in the case in support of Phillips.
Mullins and Craig were planning their wedding in Massachusetts in 2012 and wanted the cake for a reception in Colorado, where gay marriage was not yet legal. During a brief encounter at Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, the baker politely but firmly refused, leaving the couple distraught.
They filed a successful complaint with the state commission, the first step in the six-year-old legal battle. State courts sided with the couple, prompting Phillips to appeal to the top U.S. court. Phillips has said a backlash against his business has left him struggling to keep the shop afloat.
The case’s outcome hinged on the actions of the Colorado commission. In one exchange at a 2014 hearing cited by Kennedy, former commissioner Diann Rice said that “freedom of religion, and religion, has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust.”
Kennedy noted that the commission had ruled the opposite way in three cases brought against bakers in which the business owners refused to bake cakes containing messages that demeaned gay people or same-sex marriage.
“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,” said lawyer Kristen Waggoner of the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Phillips.
OUR PREVIOUS REPORT ON PHILLIPS:
In a major upcoming Supreme Court case that weighs equal rights with religious liberty, the Trump administration on Thursday sided with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
The Department of Justice on Thursday filed a brief on behalf of baker Jack Phillips, who was found to have violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to created a cake to celebrate the marriage of Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. Phillips said he doesn’t create wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it would violate his religious beliefs.
The government agreed with Phillips that his cakes are a form of expression, and he cannot be compelled to use his talents for something in which he does not believe.
“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief. –WaPo
Comedian Steven Crowder made a powerful (and hilarious) video that was seen by over 5 MILLION viewers, exposing how the left twists the narrative to promote their radical ideology. Crowder went undercover to several Muslim bakeries in Dearborn, Michigan to see how many of them would be willing to bake a cake for a gay couple. Keep in mind, the left is the champion of Muslim communities in America when it comes to protecting their rights.
In 2015, Star Transport lost a high profile case after two Muslim Somali immigrant drivers who worked for them were fired for refusing to deliver alcohol, as part of their job. Star Transport was forced to pay $240,000 to the two Muslim men after the jury found them guilty of violating the Muslim men’s faith. The
Federal Judge in the case EEOC alleged that in 2009, Star Transport fired Mohamed and Bulshale after they were required to transport alcohol. Both men told Star Transport that they believed doing so would violate their religious beliefs under Islamic law.
Does anyone see a pattern of protection for certain religious beliefs, but not for others?
In another very high profile case, the very successful Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery was forced to shut down, after a leftist judge ruled against the owners, owners Melissa and Aaron Klein, for not agreeing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding.
Watch, as they discuss the shut down of their bakery in this interview:
And who could forget this heartbreaking story of Arlene, an adorable little owner of Arlene’s Florist, who refused to supply a regular customer flowers for his gay wedding: