Masterpiece Cakeshop: The Decision [SCOTUSbrief]
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Masterpiece Cakeshop: The Decision [SCOTUSbrief]


Masterpiece Cakeshop involves a baker in Colorado
who declined to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple for their wedding. By a 7-2 vote, the Court ruled that because
the government agency that was enforcing the state anti-discrimination law was itself biased,
was itself hostile to religion, Mr. Phillips, who was asserting a religious liberty claim,
his rights were violated. And so the government cannot act from an improper
motive when it’s trying to apply even a, uh, a neutral law. Ultimately, the Supreme Court did not decide
any of the big issues in Masterpiece Cakeshop. Not about the freedom of expression and how
that coheres with an anti-discrimination law, not whether a baker is sufficiently uh, artistic
or expressive to get protection under the free speech clause of the First Amendment. Instead, the Court found that the state commission,
the Colorado Civil Rights Commission itself displayed anti-religious animus. It was biased. It was hostile to Jack Phillips, to the baker,
uh, because of certain disparaging comments uh, that certain commissioners made about
his religious views, uh, and also the disparate treatment uh, that the commission made. There were a couple of commissioners, uh,
who talked about how religion has been used to justify everything from slavery to the
Holocaust, some pretty strong statements. The commission was treating people differently
based on whether they had a religious viewpoint, and um, it was taking into consideration one
of these protected classes, that is, uh, itself discriminating based on religion. The ruling, the majority opinion was unusually
short, particularly for such a great controversy. Eighteen pages makes for a very short decision. I believe Justice Thomas’ concurrence, which
goes into the free speech uh, aspects is longer. Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority, uh,
joined by six of his colleagues. Uh, Justice Ginsberg dissented, joined by
Justice Sotomayor, and there were several concurrences. Justice Kagan, joined by Justice Breyer, those
were perhaps the surprising votes in favor of the baker, but uh, Justice Kagan wrote
separately to disagree with Justice Gorsuch and said that if there had not been this anti-religious
bias, the case might have come out a different way. What’s interesting is that the dissenting
justices, Ginsberg and Sotomayor, didn’t say that the baker loses because his First Amendment rights
are trumped by the state anti-discrimination law. What they said actually was that the anti-religious
bias was not definitive, was not decisive to the outcome of this case because Colorado’s
law can be applied neutrally, even if one isn’t biased against religion. So that’s an, an interesting wrinkle. It was a narrow ruling in the sense that it
only applies to future cases where there are allegations where the government acted with
that same kind of hostility to religion. There’s really no precedent being set for
future clashes of state anti-discrimination laws and the First Amendment. The implications uh, probably will not be
far-reaching. So on the side supporting the baker, uh, some
people have said that this is a big victory for religious liberty, that the court, by
a 7-2 vote won’t tolerate, uh, anti-religious uh, hostility and, and bias, and that’s a,
a big deal. We have no clarity, no direction on how you
resolve uh, this seeming tension between state anti-discrimination law and the First Amendment.

7 Comments

  • AboveAllNations

    There are a number of problems with how the Supreme Court handled the Masterpiece case. First, Kennedy's majority opinion irresponsibly characterized the Colorado Human Rights Commission as anti-religious after one commissioner made one statement CORRECTLY pointing out that people – – not all, but some – – have invoked religion to justify odious acts throughout human history, including slavery and the Holocaust. Sorry, that is just a historical fact. It doesn't imply that religious beliefs are exclusively used to justify odious acts (see, e.g., anti-slavery abolitionists, the black civil rights movement, etc.) or that all religious people are hateful; it merely points out that religious beliefs alone aren't enough to exempt a person from laws that govern everybody else. The statement in no way suggests that commissioner who made it had a "bias" against all people with religious beliefs, much less that the entire Commission was biased when it ruled against the baker. This kind of a distorted reading of what the Colorado Human Rights Commission did beggars belief, and, as much as Kennedy (and Roberts, Alito, Kagan and Breyer) obviously wanted to punt on the larger constitutional issues implicated by the case, this kind of an absurd straw-man argument was beneath the dignity of the Court. Having said that, it was pathetic how Justice Kennedy turned around the next week and decided that a barrage of xenophobic retweets and anti-Muslim statements (e.g., "Islam hates us," "[I want a] total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," etc.) suddenly didn't matter for the purpose of determining the constitutionality of a facially-neutral Executive Order that was nevertheless perfectly consistent with something one would expect from a President unconstitutionally motivated by prejudice against Muslims. The Court's hypocrisy in how it bent over backwards to accommodate one homophobic Christian in the Masterpiece case yet flippantly dismiss the plight of thousands of Muslim immigrants, refugees and relatives in Trump v. Hawaii was stunning and disgraceful.

  • Mike Richard

    The hypocrisy in this ruling was obvious in the aftermath when reigious beliefs caused a Trump supporter to be banned from a restaurant during the era when Trump was separating infants from mothers as he caged them in flea bitten cages within hot tent cities. The Conservative media was outraged.

  • bakerfresh

    The couple did not approach the bakery because they were in love and wanted the perfect cake. If they were trying to get a custom suit and the company was too busy to meet their deadline or too expensive they probably wouldn't wait or save up. They would take their business somewhere else. There's a lot of calling around and plans that can't always be made. That is normal and understandable.

    The "couple" …and I put it in quotes because I'm wary on their motives…they sought this guy out on purpose for his religious beliefs and asked for a custom guy wedding cake. He said he couldn't but offered anything else in his store. It's not that he wouldn't sell them food because they were gay, he didn't want to do a custom cake for them. And turned down the money. He also doesn't do erotic cakes, or like Halloween. ..things he doesn't feel comfortable with that affect his beliefs.

    He has that right. You can't force a gay Baker to make a cake of a Muslim extremist throwing a gay off the wedding cake and have strawberry drizzle all over the bottom…to that person and probably anyone, that'd be F'd up. You shouldn't be able to force someone to do your will under the guise of a hate crime.

    I think the couple are despicable and kind of ruin what marriage is. This had nothing to do with two people in love and everything to do with ruining someone's life and forcing your lifestyle on others. And there are many gays upset with this kind of behavior because of the negative light it shines on them. But not the one's still trapped in the group mentality that act only as they're told.

  • DeadBoy665

    This case should never have gone before The Supreme Court it was a liberals way of pushing their agenda but I remember something in this country because I am a cook that works I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone I don't think people remember that you have the choice to serve anyone you want or not to serve them no one can force you to do that if you don't want him and the gay couple had the choice to go anywhere they wanted and say hell with it they should have grew a thicker skin and said hey you know what he doesn't want to do our cake will go somewhere else but unfortunately people have become whiny crying little b i t c h s.

  • Kenneth Bowers

    Again, how is 7-2 a "narrow" victory? I'd say those were pretty good odds to me. . . This is what happens when you have so many other people being protected by laws, they contradict and conflict with one another and this is exactly what happens. Religious people, specifically Christians have been under attack since Christianity was formed, long before a few butt munchers could get their government protection.

  • groudon 877

    I feel so bad for the gay couple make a rainbow cake and send it to their house to show them does they have the I support them and hope that the Civil Right Act include sexual orientation

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