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05 June 2018, 08:19 | Floyd Cook
Supreme Court sides with baker who refused to make wedding cake for gay couple
"This will surprise lots of people until they read what actually happened", Richard Primus, a constitutional law expert at the University of Michigan Law school, told Newsweek of Kagan and Breyer's decision to join the majority. The larger issue of refusing service to the gay couple must "await further elaboration" in the courts.
The Colorado Court of Appealsruled that Mr Phillips' free speech rights had not been violated, noting that the couple had not discussed the cake's design before Mr Phillips turned them down. Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jake Phillips refused the order, citing his religious beliefs and that Colorado did not, at that time, recognize same-sex marriages.
But the Supreme Court, bolstered last April by the addition of stalwart conservative and fellow Coloradan Neil Gorsuch, represented a tougher test. Even though the decision is narrow, those who skim the headlines about Masterpiece - that the court sided with a baker who did not want to serve a same-sex couple - are likely to feel that they have a free pass to turn people away.
"Same-sex couples in Washington state will continue to enjoy protections against discrimination, and I will continue to enforce our state's law against discrimination", he said in a statement.
"In fact, the Supreme Court chastised itself and said, 'Hey, we don't set the conscience for the nation here".
While the gay couple said they wanted to live up to the hopes of their community as "accidental gay icons", ABC "Nightline" co-anchor Juju Chang - who visited with them a week before the ruling - says baker Jack Phillips believed there was no other choice: "For him, it's the government forcing him to create cakes that violate his faith". On Monday, June 4, the highest court in the nation announced an overturn of the ruling. "The court was right to condemn that", Kristen Waggoner said.
The ruling means that some business owners can not be successfully sued for refusing on religious grounds to provide services to same-sex couples, even in the 22 states with human rights laws, similar to Colorado's, that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
But Kennedy's opinion also defended states' authority "to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services".
In 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig asked Phillips to bake a cake to celebrate their planned wedding, which would be performed in another state. He noted that the majority opinion promised that "religious liberty lives to fight another day", but added that he expects future conflict to continue based in part on Justice Kennedy's reasoning in Obergefell, which attributed laws banning gay marriage primarily to hostility toward sexual minorities. In doing so, the commission violated his religious rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Kennedy pointed out that the record was complicated by anti-religious statements made by Colorado state officials.
But when the justices heard arguments in December, Justice Anthony Kennedy was plainly bothered by comments by a commission member. The Arizona-based group brought suits on a behalf of a wedding photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington state and the Colorado baker whose case reached the Supreme Court.
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