In 2012 a same-sex couple went to Masterpiece Cakeshop and inquired about ordering a cake for their wedding reception. The baker, Jack Phillips, told the couple he, for religious reasons, could not create them a cake, as he was religiously opposed to same-sex couples.
The couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig filed a compliant with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Commission ruled in their favor, citing the states, anti-discrimination law. Phillips in turn took the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals, he argued forcing him to provide a wedding cake for the couple violated his constitutional right to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.
The Colorado Court of Appeals held that the Commission’s ruling did not compel Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop to “support or endorse any particular religious view.” the court stated it simply prohibited Phillips from discriminating against potential customers based on their sexual orientation.
On Monday the supreme ruled in favor of the Colorado Baker. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion, via CNN.
The decision was 7-2, with Justice Ginsburg offering the dissent, Justice Sotomayor joins.
In the opinion Kennedy offers that the Colorado Commission treated Phillips with hostility toward his sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection:
The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.
Kennedy offers an example of the clear and impermissible hostility from a July, 25, 2014 Commission meeting, held publicly were a commissioner made specific reference to an early meeting, but where Kennedy believes that commissioner said far more to disparage Phillips’ beliefs.
The Commissioner stated
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. 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, whether it be—I mean, we —we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.”
Kennedy takes issue with this line “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use,” calling that like disparage Phillips religion.
Kennedy explains that this ruling in favor of Phillips does not clear the way for other cases, in so far as he states, “the outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts.”
But for Phillips it is a win as the Supreme Court has reversed the Colorado Court of Appeals.