The Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Baker Who Turned Away a Gay Couple
In a long-awaited decision made on Monday morning (June 4), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The court ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips, citing Phillips’ right to religious freedom under the First Amendment and the “hostile” treatment he received from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the Supreme Court’s official ruling, said that the decision was made on the basis that the civil rights commission ignored Phillips’ claim to his religious beliefs and treated him unfairly. “The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection,” Justice Kennedy wrote.
This case was closely watched around the country as a potential landmark decision for the future of LGBTQ rights in America. Justice Kennedy was quick to say the court’s ruling was made on the specifics of this case, and that future similar cases may have the opposite outcome.
“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Justice Kennedy’s official ruling read, “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.”
The case began back in 2012 when couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins visited Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their wedding, and were told that Phillips would not bake them a cake based on his religious belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, who agreed that Phillips had violated Colorado state law by discriminating against a same-sex couple. The couple won in state and appeals courts as well before the decision was reversed by the SCOTUS.
CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck said that with the many different Constitutional questions in this case remaining largely unanswered, the decision was ultimately less meaningful than previously expected. “Today’s decision is remarkably narrow, and leaves for another day virtually all of the major constitutional questions that this case presented,” he said. “It’s hard to see the decision setting a precedent.”