US Supreme Court backs Christian baker who refused gays' wedding cake request

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The U.S. Supreme court dodged a major ruling on the question of whether business owners can refuse services to gay individuals based on their religious objections.

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a baker in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

"When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires", Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. "The Civil Rights Commission's treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious beliefs that motivated his objection", Justice Kennedy wrote.

In Monday's ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the commission's actions "showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious beliefs motivating his objection". The Supreme Court suggests it acted with animus, and with "hostility", and went too far.

Religious-liberty advocates got another expansion of the Free Exercise Clause, which has been championed by President Trump and his evangelical base, who don't want to be forced into actions, like providing employees birth control, if it violates their religious beliefs.

In 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig asked Phillips to bake a cake to celebrate their planned wedding, which would be performed in another state.

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Last fall, the LDS Church filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief with seven other churches or organizations in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. What is important in the case, Ginsburg said, is that Phillips would not provide the same goods or service to a same-sex couple that he would provide to a heterosexual couple.

In the wake of the marriage ruling, conservative religious-rights advocates led by the Alliance Defending Freedom sought to establish a right to refuse to help celebrate a same-sex marriage. The government can not treat a person's religious beliefs with hostility, he wrote, yet that's what the Commission did here, and this is what led to Kagan's concurrence. The court did not rule that the decision of the Civil Rights Commission was wrong, or that Phillips was within his rights to deny service.

Joining the majority opinion were two consistently liberal justices: Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. The justices ruled that the commission should have weighed this evidence before punishing Masterpiece Cakeshop.

"Colorado would not be punishing Phillips if he refused to create any custom wedding cakes; it is punishing him because he refuses to create custom wedding cakes that express approval of same-sex marriage", Thomas said. Waggoner said her client can resume his refusal to make cakes for same-sex marriages without fear of a new legal fight.

She cited "several layers of independent decision-making of which the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was but one" in the state case.