|Let them eat cake, just not from Masterpiece Cakeshop!|
I keep having to repeat this, so I’m posting this to my blog with all the necessary details for my own benefit.
This is not an invitation to argue.
Yesterday, June 4, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) made a ruling on a case between a baker, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Phillips refused to bake a wedding cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig. His stated reason is that making a cake for a gay couple is a violation of his religious beliefs.
The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating against their customers on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
It seems pretty straight-forward.
However, SCOTUS decided in favor of Phillips.
This makes it seem like business owners can now discriminate against people if something about them goes against their religious convictions.
It does not.
The decision was incredibly narrow, threading the needle between the legality of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and Phillips’ First Amendment right to religion. The Colorado Commission, when executing its anti-discrimination law, came down so heavily on Phillips that it created an obvious bias. Legally speaking, they weren’t wrong, but they were so extreme in the application of the law, that according to the majority decision written by Justice Kennedy, “[Phillips] might have his right to the free exercise of his religion limited by generally applicable laws . . . [but] the State’s obligation of religious neutrality” is still required.
That is, the State has to at least make the appearance of being impartial when walking the line between anti-discrimination and Constitutional exercise of religion. This does not mean that businesses can discriminate, but rather that the State of Colorado erred when showing extreme hostility toward Phillips. Kennedy’s decision also affirmed that that the protections for same-sex couples remains in place and enforceable under various state laws like those of Colorado.