It’s been a long road for Jack Phillips, a Christian who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado.
Phillips serves all kinds of people. He didn’t ban homosexuals from his store. They can walk in and buy any baked good on the shelves. But Phillips doesn’t make custom cakes for occasions that conflict with his faith, like Halloween or homosexual “weddings.”
He ended up in litigation in 2012 because he refused to use his artistic cake-designing talents to make a product for a service that mocks marriage.
That is his right. But the two disgruntled homosexuals, who could have bought a pre-made cake and respected the baker’s rights or solicited business elsewhere, complained to the state’s so-called civil rights commission. The commission, which didn’t care about Phillips’s civil rights, ruled against him. Phillips appealed the ruling and lost again. The commission also ordered him and his staff to undergo re-education and submit quarterly reports to the government.
Phillips stopped making wedding cakes.
An appeals court also ruled against the baker. He eventually appealed to the nation’s highest court, which agreed to hear his case. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 on Monday in Phillips’s favor. Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the conservatives.
The justices contended that the commission treated Phillips’s religious beliefs with hostility and violated the Free Exercise Clause. The record “demonstrates that the Commission’s consideration of Phillips’ case was neither tolerant nor respectful of his religious beliefs.”
The Commission gave “every appearance,” id., at 545, of adjudicating his religious objection based on a negative normative “evaluation of the particular justification” for his objection and the religious grounds for it, id., at 537, but government has no role in expressing or even suggesting whether the religious ground for Phillips’ conscience-based objection is legitimate or illegitimate. The inference here is thus that Phillips’ religious objection was not considered with the neutrality required by the Free Exercise Clause.
The decision is narrow in that the court didn’t rule definitively under what circumstances religious business owners can claim exemption from being compelled by their government to bake cakes or arrange flowers or take photographs for “weddings.”
We have the “law of the land” right to abortion and homosexual “marriage” but no such protection for Christian business owners who refuse to endorse homosexuality.
Watch Phillips’s story: