Supreme Court rules in favor of baker in same-sex cake case In a decision, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple. The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, in one of the most closely watched cases of the term.
In a decision , the justices set aside a Colorado court ruling against the baker -- while stopping short of deciding the broader issue of whether a business can refuse to serve gay and lesbian people. The narrow ruling here focused on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips.
Baker Jack Phillips had refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The court said the broader issue, though, "must await further elaboration. Phillips refused his services when told it was for a same-sex couple. The state civil rights commission sanctioned Phillips after a formal complaint from the gay couple.
He had lost at every step in the legal appeals process, bringing the case down to the Supreme Court's decision Monday. We have always believed that in America, you should not be turned away from a business open to the public because of who you are.
Phillips has said he lost business and had to let employees go because of the controversy. The court in December specifically examined whether applying Colorado's public accommodations law to compel the local baker to create commercial "expression" violated his constitutionally protected Christian beliefs about marriage.
By wading again into the culture wars, the justices had to confront recent decisions on both gay rights and religious liberty: The Trump administration agreed with Phillips' legal claims to a large extent. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in October issued broad guidance to executive branch agencies, reiterating the government should respect religious freedom, which in the Justice Department's eyes extends to people, businesses and organizations.
But civil rights groups were concerned the conservative majority on the court may be ready to peel back protections for groups with a history of enduring discrimination — and predicted that giving businesses the right to refuse service to certain customers would undermine non-discrimination laws and hurt minorities. When the justices heard arguments in December, Kennedy was plainly bothered by certain comments by a commission member.
The commissioner seemed "neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs," Kennedy said in December. Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the conservative justices in the outcome. Kagan wrote separately to emphasize the limited ruling.