by Kevin Daley
The U.S. Supreme Court found issued a narrow ruling in favor of a Christian baker who declined to bake a custom wedding cake for a same-sex wedding Monday, concluding a state agency did not apply an anti-discrimination law in a neutral manner.
The case was occasioned when David Mullins and Charlie Craig, a gay couple, entered Jack Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo in 2012. After a short discussion with the prospective patrons, Phillips said he would not sell them a custom wedding cake due to his deeply-held religious beliefs. Mullins and Craig filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, prompting a lengthy legal battle culminating in an appeal to the high court.
Kennedy explained that the Colorado law can validly protect LGBT patrons, must found the state agency applied the law in a manner hostile towards Phillips’ evangelical beliefs.
“That consideration was compromised, however, by the commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case, which showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection,” Kennedy wrote.
As such, the ruling is largely limited to the facts at hand, with limited application in related cases.
Justice Elena Kagan wrote a concurring opinion joined by Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion joined by Justice Samuel Alito. Justice Clarence Thomas also filed a concurring opinion, which Gorsuch joined.
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