This morning, the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the religious rights of Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, when it purported to require the shop to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Phillips, an expert baker and a devout Christian, told the couple he would make them a birthday cake but not a wedding cake due to his religious opposition to same-sex marriages. Notably, Metro Denver has numerous shops available to bake wedding cakes.
After being abused by the state regulator, Phillips sought administrative and judicial relief in Colorado to no avail before petitioning the United States Supreme Court for review.
As expected, the Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion was authored by “swing vote” Anthony Kennedy, who may retire this year. Although the result was previously predicted by Attorney Beltran and other commentators, it was expected to be a narrow decision. Surprisingly, liberal Justices Kagan and Breyer sided with the conservative wing and voted against Colorado. The justices were appalled at the clear anti-religious animus of the Colorado Commission and its previously capricious rulings.
The separation of church and state presupposes that the state can neither advance nor inhibit religion. Moreover, the state must always respect citizens’ right to exercise and articulate their honestly held religious beliefs. If you believe you have been subject to religious discrimination by a state regulator, please contact the office.