US Supreme Court Rules For Colorado Christian Baker Who Discriminated Against Gay Couple

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the Free Exercise Clause (of religion) of the Constitution in the case of Christian baker Jack Phillips who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.

The Hill notes that Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, which was not based on Colorado’s non-discrimination law, but on some comments made by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission:

This sentiment is inappropriate for a commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law — a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a dissenting opinion (joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor) that said the comments of members of Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission don’t justify reversing a lower court’s decision for the gay couple.

Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which represented the gay couple, said that Colorado’s non-discrimination law was not invalidated by the high court, notes The Associated Press:

[The ruling] reaffirmed the core principle that businesses open to the public must be open to all in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The court did not accept arguments that would have turned back the clock on equality by making our basic civil rights protections unenforceable, but reversed this case based on concerns specific to the facts here.

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.

(Sources: The Hill, The Associated Press via CBS News. Photo Credit: Masterpiece Cakeshop)

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