US Supreme Court sides with Colorado Christian cake artist

US Supreme Court sides with Colorado Christian cake artist June 4, 2018

When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found that Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had discriminated against a gay couple by refusing them a wedding cake, it had shown ‘clear hostility’ towards Christian business owners.
That’s the verdict of the US Supreme Court which has just overturned a ruling by the Colorado state court which found that Phillips’ decision to turn away David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012 was unlawful discrimination.
The Supreme Court’s majority opinion (7-2) said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had been biased against Phillips. It said the commission had shown “clear hostility” and implied religious beliefs “are less than fully welcome in Colorado’s business community”.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that while Colorado law “can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services … the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion”.
The opinion cited the following comment from a Colorado commissioner during a public hearing:

Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to use their religion to hurt others.

Such language, the Supreme Court said, was disparaging of Phillips’ religious beliefs and inappropriate for a commission charged with:

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.

When Phillips’ bigotry first plunged him into a legal battle that he claimed could ruin him financially, a funding page was established to raise $200,000. To date it has managed to raise 48 percent of that target.
The funding page says this of Phillips:

He is truly an artist turned cake designer, where his canvas is cake and his paint, icing.
Jack is also a born-again Christian. In fact, it would be more correct to say that he is a follower of Christ first, and cake artist second.
His ability, talent, and business come directly from his Creator, and he desires to glorify God in everything he does.
His deep conviction to honor God first in everything informs his decision to not make cakes with messages that promote: Halloween, anti-American or anti-family themes, atheism, racism, or indecency, and more.

Gay rights groups feared a ruling against the couple could set a precedent for treating gay marriages differently to heterosexual unions. But the Supreme Court’s verdict instead focuses specifically on Phillips’ case.
The decision does not state that florists, photographers, or other services can now refuse to work with gay couples.
Colorado is one of 22 states that includes sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination law, which allowed Craig and Mullins to win their case.
Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the two dissenting votes.
Justice Ginsburg wrote:

Phillips would not sell to Craig and Mullins, for no reason other than their sexual orientation, a cake of the kind he regularly sold to others. What matters is that Phillips would not provide a good or service to a same-sex couple that he would provide to a hetereosexual couple.

Justice Ginsburg did not agree with the finding that the Commission acted unfairly.
She cited “several layers of independent decision-making of which the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was but one” in the state case.
Hat tip: AgentCormac and BarrieJohn

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  • andym

    Very odd. Strikes me as a political, rather than a legal, decision-a compromise that will please no one. It seems to have hid behind a few selective comments in the original case . Won’t this set a precedent whatever their general reservations are?

  • AgentCormac

    @ andym
    ‘Won’t this set a precedent whatever their general reservations are?’
    I honestly think it will. It’s called alt-right, evangelist-backed Trumpism in action. This orange moron and his supporters will keep on rolling back hard-won protections on every front for as long as they can – from LGBT, race and women’s rights to the environment and medicare. And the one driving force behind it is one man’s obsession with undoing every last good thing that Obama did.
    It’s actually an act of monumental, narcissistic vandalism. How on earth did we come to this?

  • L.Long

    This is just the supreme court of religious bigots flexing its power to make the xtian theocracy real. The Colorado commisioner’s statement is 100% accurat. BUT…
    should an artist use his talents to support that which he does not agree?? If the gays came in asking for a standard wedding cake then they should be allowed to buy it. But if they wanted it all artsy then the artist may be able to refuse.
    But since the dimwit is using mixed fabrics and a trimmed beard and hair that makes him into a lying hypocrite!!!!
    And as a follower of christ, please remind me how jesus condemned gays???

  • Angela_K

    Trump has seen to it that the judiciary is loaded with god-bots making it difficult to get a fair decision. Following this poor judgement I predict open season with the religious stepping up their bigotry. Shame on you USA.

  • barriejohn

    L.Long: NO! They refused to do business with them when they found out that they were gay. I cannot believe this judgment. 7-2 for gawd’s sake! It’s an appalling statement that minorities in the USA can no longer depend upon the law for protection. It’s fucking open season now!
    Dave Mullins, Charlie Craig, and Craig’s mother Debbie Munn visited Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop in 2012 to buy a wedding cake. Before they could even begin talking about design, it became clear that Mullins and Craig were the ones getting married, and at that point, bakery owner Jack Phillips refused to do business with them, citing his evangelical Christian beliefs.
    In short, even if they wanted to buy the same cake he sells to straight people, Phillips refused to let them do it because they were gay. While the Religious Right has argued Phillips would have been endorsing gay marriage by making them a cake, or using his creative skills in support of a gay wedding against his will, neither was the case because they never even got to that stage of the process.
    I’m nowhere near as optimistic as Hemant.

  • 1859

    Justice Ginsberg is the only judge to see this for what it is – discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Had a hetro couple walked in and asked for a wedding cake, the ‘cake artist’ would have said ‘sure, no problem’. A gay couple walk in and ask for the exact same service and he refuses – that is discrimination pure and simple NOT an attack on his religious beliefs. Did the gay couple demand that the artist suspend his christian beliefs in order to make their cake? No. Instead HE chose to refuse them his services because of his religious beliefs. In other words he used his religion to justify, to underpin his discrimination and that is, and must, remain illegal. Shame on the USA.

  • Kentucky Boy

    I’d like to know if he opens on Sundays

  • Dianne Leonard

    Can we all say “BOYCOTT”?

  • barriejohn

    Forgive me if I linked to a similar article recently, but I lose track of what I’ve posted where, and to whom I emailed things, nowadays! “Project Blitz”:

  • andym

    “I’m nowhere near as optimistic as Hemant.”
    It could be worse, I suppose. It’s a 2-0 rather than a 5-0 loss in football.But it’s still bad. What worries me is that a supposedly independent , powerful court has clearly made a political, not legal, decision , desperately finding ways to placate the religious right.

  • AgentCormac

    That Project Blitz makes for scary reading. Especially the last bit.
    “It’s a Christian supremacist agenda, the idea that God intended and mandates Christians to lead and control the United States for the religious vision that they hold and the policy implications that flow from it.
    “If you are a more liberal Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim, or a non-believer of any sort, or whatever you happen to be, you’re a second class citizen at best.”

  • Laura Roberts

    I see two key aspects of this decision.
    First, it was a 7-2 decision, not 5-4, which suggests this was not as political as it might seem on the surface. Religious privilege reared its ugly head, certainly, but I feared worse.
    Second, the justices were careful to focus the decision on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s language. While I completely agree with the text of the Commission’s forceful statement, it was a strategic error if the commissioners knew it might go to the religiously besotted SCOTUS.

  • barriejohn

    “We thank God for answered prayer!”
    “This is a huge win for religious freedom!”