Baker Jack Phillips had argued that cake-baking is constitutionally protected free speech and that sanctioning him for refusing to bake for a same-sex marriage violated his constitutional right to free exercise of religion. The decision does not give free rein to businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The Civil Rights Commission had required bakery owner Jack Phillips to either make cakes for gay weddings or stop making custom wedding cakes at all. Dissenting in the ruling was U.S. Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was joined by U.S. Associate Justice Sonia Sotamayor.
"I have to be honest, I started to break down and I cried", said Craig.
Couple Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins requested a wedding cake from Masterpiece Cakeshop.
The decision does not state that florists, photographers, or other services can now refuse to work with gay couples. "The First Amendment prohibits governments from discriminating against citizens on the basis of religious beliefs". The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which sided with them. The justices voted 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillips' rights under the First Amendment.
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The ruling means that some business owners can not be successfully sued for refusing on religious grounds to provide services to same-sex couples, even in the 22 states with human rights laws, similar to Colorado's, that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
But when the justices heard arguments in December, Kennedy was plainly bothered by comments by a commission member.
But even as he authored the court's landmark decision, Kennedy held out an olive branch to religious conservatives.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also applauded the verdict on Twitter, saying the court upheld the baker's "right to live according to his faith".
"The court reversed the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision based on concerns unique to the case but reaffirmed its longstanding rule that states can prevent the harms of discrimination in the marketplace, including against LGBT people", Melling said in a statement. But the critical question of when Phillips' right to exercise his religion can be limited had to be determined, Kennedy emphasized, in a proceeding that was not tainted by hostility to religion.
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Justice Anthony Kennedy said that issue "must await further elaboration".
Instead, the court said Phillips was treated unfairly by the civil rights commission, and for this reason alone, he should win his case.
This was really the issue that Kagan was getting at; not that Phillips was necessarily justified in denying service to a gay couple, but that the State of Colorado was just plain wrong in how they handled the matter.
The ACLU, representing Mullins and Craig, said they never discussed with Phillips what kind of design, if any, they wanted on their cake, diminishing his claim that his freedom of expression was at stake.
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