The Supreme Court today ruled today in favor of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to design a case for a same-sex wedding, a controversial case that was widely seen as a standoff between claims of religious liberty and LGBTQ rights.
ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — decided in a 7-2 vote — was primarily focused on how the Colorado Civil Rights Commission handled the case, and ultimately pushed any definitive treatment regarding the issue of citing religion to refuse service down the road.But experts and advocates noted the
“The Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s consideration of this case was inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “The reason and motive for the baker’s refusal were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a dissent, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The case dates back to 2012, when Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips told David Mullins and Charlie Craig, a same-sex couple, that his Christian faith prohibited him from making a cake for their wedding. Mullins and Craig subsequently filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission found that the bakery had discriminated against the couple in violation of Colorado law, a decision the Colorado courts upheld.
issued a statement celebrating the decision.Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal firm that was quick to aid Phillips in the early stages of the case,
“Jack serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held beliefs,” ADF Senior Council Kristen Waggoner said. “Creative professionals who serve all people should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment. 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. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a society like ours. This decision makes clear that the government must respect Jack’s beliefs about marriage.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Craig and Mullins during appeals, also appeared optimistic about the ruling. The ACLU account tweeted that the decision was “based on concerns specific to the case,” arguing, “The Court did NOT rule that the Constitution gives a right to discriminate.”
“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,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a separate press release.