Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Supreme Court rules for Christian baker in Masterpiece Cakeshop case

HIGH STAKES The U.S. Supreme Court could decide some blockbuster cases today as the term nears its end. AP file Supreme court rules in favor of baker in same-sex wedding cake case
Faye Gross | 05 June, 2018, 16:16

The Colorado state court had found that baker Jack Phillips' decision to turn away David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012 was unlawful discrimination.

Graham is now touring California in a bid to get out the evangelical Christian vote in the June 5 primary election. Dissenting in the ruling was U.S. Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was joined by U.S. Associate Justice Sonia Sotamayor.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, on whose vote the case was expected to hinge, wrote for the majority.

The decision went on to say the "broader issue must await further elaboration".

The court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility toward the baker based on his religious beliefs.

Several other legal disputes are pending over wedding services, similar to the Phillips case. The Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal, and the case wound up before the Supreme Court last spring. But civil rights groups warned that a win for the baker would create a religion-based exception to laws forbidding other forms of discrimination, too. For instance, Kennedy notes, "it can be assumed that a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion". Wisconsin Democrat Cathy Myers said that the decision will only embolden other "bigoted bakers", while writer Robert Sandy said that the decision gave Phillips license to be a "homophobic a**hole". If that happens, the Supreme Court could issue a decision that makes precedent on this issue with whomever President Trump appoints to replace Kennedy. Moreover, Kennedy added, the commission's treatment of Phillips' religious objections was at odds with its rulings in the cases of bakers who refused to create cakes "with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage".

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He said a Supreme Court ruling in his favor would "declare to the world that my faith is not a scarlet letter". "In this case and others, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the free speech and religious freedom First Amendment rights of all Americans".

"The clearest signal of the court in the Colorado case, the Masterpiece Cake shop is that the government can't bully and harass people and push them out of marketplace, simply because they want to live a life that's consistent with their religious beliefs about marriage". The government can not treat a person's religious beliefs with hostility, he wrote, yet that's what the Commission did here, and this is what led to Kagan's concurrence.

The Supreme Court justices' limited ruling turned on what the court described as anti-religious bias on that commission when it ruled against Phillips.

Colorado is one of 22 states whose civil rights laws require businesses that are open to the public to serve all customers on an equal basis and without regard to their sexual orientation.

"I see no reason why the comments of one or two commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips' refusal to sell a wedding cake to Craig and Mullins", Ginsburg writes.

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