Justices side with baker on same-sex wedding cake

HIGH STAKES The U.S. Supreme Court could decide some blockbuster cases today as the term nears its end. AP file

Credit AP HIGH STAKES The U.S. Supreme Court could decide some blockbuster cases today as the term nears its end. AP file

"This is a huge win for religious freedom!" He said the Court must embrace a more expansive defense of free speech, as well as religious liberty, in light of the growing movement to sanction speech that offends the sensibilities of others.

Kennedy also spoke for the court in its 2015 ruling that upheld same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

"Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples can not be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth", Kennedy wrote.

In fact, Kennedy said, the commission had been hostile to the baker's faith, denying him the neutral consideration he deserved. "The court was right to condemn that".

She further added that the case "will affect a number of cases for years to come in free exercise jurisprudence. He's also, obviously, handling a large volume of calls himself and looking out for the protection of his family, to be candid", Waggoner said.

Nor did they issue a ruling on the specific circumstances under which people may seek exemption from anti-discrimination laws.

Pro-family and pro-LGBT advocates were closing watching the case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, as it will have enormous ramifications for the implementation of same-sex "marriage" in the USA three years after the Court imposed it on the country.

Anthony Michael Kreis, a visiting assistant professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law whose research involves religious liberty, offered a similar assessment.

Indeed, while the instant enforcement proceedings were pending, the State Civil Rights Division concluded in at least three cases that a baker acted lawfully in declining to create cakes with decorations that demeaned gay persons or gay marriages.

The verdict said the commission had shown "clear hostility" and implied religious beliefs "are less than fully welcome in Colorado's business community". The commissioner seemed "neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs", Kennedy said in December.

Only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor opposed the narrow ruling in favor of the baker.

"Another indication of hostility is the different treatment of Phillips' case and the cases of other bakers with objections to anti-gay messages who prevailed before the commission".

The gay couple at the center of the story, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, were married legally in MA, but wanted the cake baked for their wedding reception in Colorado in 2012. "At which point they both stormed out and left", he said.

The Court found that Colorado's Civil Rights Commission, which enforces discrimination policy, operated in a manner at odds with religious tolerance.

"The commission's hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment's guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion", J. Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, adding that the Commission "showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious beliefs motivating" Phillips.

The case had been eagerly anticipated as, variously, a potentially strong statement about the rights of LGBT people or the court's first ruling carving out exceptions to an anti-discrimination law.

"Colorado can treat a baker who discriminates based on sexual orientation differently from a baker who does not discriminate on that or any other prohibited ground", she wrote.

How about wedding photographers or videographers, who create products that (unlike most cakes) are traditionally seen as speech?

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