In Big Ruling, SCOTUS Endorses Freedom Over Compulsion

 

The Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment Monday, ruling in favor of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakes in Lakewood, CO. In a narrowly crafted 7-2 opinion, the court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission demonstrated hostility to Phillips’s religious beliefs.

Although Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion was full of the woke posturing we’ve come to expect, had this case gone the other way, religious liberty would have suffered greatly. This ruling was a necessary brushback pitch to overreaching bureaucrats trying to stamp out diversity of thought and belief.

It would be ludicrous for government to force Jewish artists to create paintings celebrating Easter or force atheist artists to promote Hindu beliefs. Either would be as offensive as forcing Muslim bakers to cater a pork barbecue.

The same goes for Colorado insisting that a traditional Christian create cakes celebrating weddings that go against his beliefs. In fact, there are all sorts of occassions Phillips won’t endorse.

“He has declined to participate in Halloween,” his attorney said. “He doesn’t do cakes that are anti-American. Jack has even declined cakes that celebrate divorce. He has declined to do cakes that would be offensive or derogatory to individuals — including LGBT individuals.”

Of course, there might be a bakery down the street from Phillips that will make cakes supporting all those things. That’s how freedom works. But no artist or baker should be compelled by the government to create against his will.

Lost in these broad fights of the culture war are the individuals affected. You can learn more about Jack Phillips here:

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  1. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I don’t think your headline is quite accurate, Jon. SCOTUS decided against the blatant anti-religious bias of the anti-discrimination commission. It did not rule explicitly in favor freedom of conscience. The narrow crafting of the decision leaves open the distinct possibility that a more subtle anti-discrimination commission will win the next case against a Christian baker who refuses to express approval of same-sex marriage.

    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

     

    • #1
  2. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk)
    @Majestyk

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

    But it’s considerably better than a defeat, and even though they kicked the can down the road, it does seem like the SCOTUS majority will be more open to the notion of allowing freedom of association to govern such interactions in the marketplace in the future.

    None of this is a bad thing.

    • #2
  3. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

    But it’s considerably better than a defeat, and even though they kicked the can down the road, it does seem like the SCOTUS majority will be more open to the notion of allowing freedom of association to govern such interactions in the marketplace in the future.

    None of this is a bad thing.

    Here’s to hoping Trump gets to replace a couple more judges on SCOTUS, some of the Progressives are more then a little long in the tooth….

    • #3
  4. Danny Alexander Member
    Danny Alexander
    @DannyAlexander

    Looks like Samantha Bee is going to have to return to her bully pulpit and call Justice Kagan out for being a feckless ladypart, in 5-4-3-2-1… (Not holding my breath…)

    • #4
  5. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Thanks so much, Jon! The video was beautiful. It would have been so easy for Jack to back down, in the face of people who need to ram down everyone’s throat what they consider the correct thing. But this good man refused to do that. It speaks to what America is all about. God Bless Jack Phillips!!

    • #5
  6. Viruscop Member
    Viruscop
    @Viruscop

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think your headline is quite accurate, Jon. SCOTUS decided against the blatant anti-religious bias of the anti-discrimination commission. It did not rule explicitly in favor freedom of conscience. The narrow crafting of the decision leaves open the distinct possibility that a more subtle anti-discrimination commission will win the next case against a Christian baker who refuses to express approval of same-sex marriage.

    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

     

    I agree with most of this, but not with the phrasing of it. The headline is somewhat misleading.

    • #6
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

    But it’s considerably better than a defeat, and even though they kicked the can down the road, it does seem like the SCOTUS majority will be more open to the notion of allowing freedom of association to govern such interactions in the marketplace in the future.

    None of this is a bad thing.

    Cato disagrees.

    • #7
  8. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    It’s not as broad a ruling as I hoped for and Kennedy’s reasoning and rhetoric at points is downright terrible. He’s clearly signaling that he’s not interested in border relgious freedom protections. 

    The fight continues. 

    • #8
  9. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think your headline is quite accurate, Jon. SCOTUS decided against the blatant anti-religious bias of the anti-discrimination commission. It did not rule explicitly in favor freedom of conscience. The narrow crafting of the decision leaves open the distinct possibility that a more subtle anti-discrimination commission will win the next case against a Christian baker who refuses to express approval of same-sex marriage.

    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

     

    Agreed entirely. This was a stay of execution not a reversal. 

    • #9
  10. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Although Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion was full of the woke posturing we’ve come to expect, had this case gone the other way, religious liberty would have suffered greatly. This ruling was a necessary brushback pitch to overreaching bureaucrats trying to stamp out diversity of thought and belief.

    Jon,

    For those who were willing to accept the alternative to voting for Trump, I would make this exhibit A in my recommendation for reconsidering. Without Gorsuch, this decision doesn’t happen. Kennedy’s vanity would easily overcome any good sense. Even so it was very close.

    We need one more appointment at the level of Gorsuch. We need to win this mid-term election.

    Halleluyah.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #10
  11. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Gorsuch’s and Thomas’s opinions repay reading. The dissent (and the majority opinion) not so much.

    You can find the (PDF) judgment here.

    • #11
  12. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    The good (but not the law) from Justice Gorsuch’s concurring opinion:

    To be sure, the bakers knew their conduct promised the effect of leaving a customer in a protected class unserved. But there’s no indication the bakers actually intended to refuse service because of a customer’s protected characteristic. We know this because all of the bakers explained without contradiction that they would not sell the requested cakes to anyone, while they would sell other cakes to members of the protected class (as well as to anyone else).

    The bad (not yet the law, being dictum) from Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the majority:

    And any decision in favor of the baker would have to be sufficiently constrained, lest all purveyors of goods and services who object to gay marriages for moral and religious reasons in effect be allowed to put up signs saying “no goods or services will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages,” something that would impose a serious stigma on gay persons.

    The latter does not bode well for cases involving marriage venues for example.

    • #12
  13. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think your headline is quite accurate, Jon. SCOTUS decided against the blatant anti-religious bias of the anti-discrimination commission. It did not rule explicitly in favor freedom of conscience. The narrow crafting of the decision leaves open the distinct possibility that a more subtle anti-discrimination commission will win the next case against a Christian baker who refuses to express approval of same-sex marriage.

    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

    The selection of Kennedy to write such a narrow opinion leads me to speculate that Roberts had his hands full on this one.  I don’t believe there was any way a broader 5-4 ruling in favor of Phillips was in the cards, and any attempt to force that could well have gone the other way, with Kennedy writing a different opinion.

    • #13
  14. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    genferei (View Comment):

    Gorsuch’s and Thomas’s opinions repay reading. The dissent (and the majority opinion) not so much.

    Thomas wrote a very necessary opinion, IMO– the “star” of all of them.  We’ll have to disagree on Gorsuch’s windy prose.

    • #14
  15. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think your headline is quite accurate, Jon. SCOTUS decided against the blatant anti-religious bias of the anti-discrimination commission. It did not rule explicitly in favor freedom of conscience. The narrow crafting of the decision leaves open the distinct possibility that a more subtle anti-discrimination commission will win the next case against a Christian baker who refuses to express approval of same-sex marriage.

    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

    The selection of Kennedy to write such a narrow opinion leads me to speculate that Roberts had his hands full on this one. I don’t believe there was any way a broader 5-4 ruling in favor of Phillips was in the cards, and any attempt to force that could well have gone the other way, with Kennedy writing a different opinion.

    Right, but my point stands. It was not a decision favoring freedom; it was against anti-religious bias in government. Any decision that gets two left wing justices should be viewed skeptically by liberty-loving conservatives. 

    • #15
  16. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think your headline is quite accurate, Jon. SCOTUS decided against the blatant anti-religious bias of the anti-discrimination commission. It did not rule explicitly in favor freedom of conscience. The narrow crafting of the decision leaves open the distinct possibility that a more subtle anti-discrimination commission will win the next case against a Christian baker who refuses to express approval of same-sex marriage.

    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

    The selection of Kennedy to write such a narrow opinion leads me to speculate that Roberts had his hands full on this one. I don’t believe there was any way a broader 5-4 ruling in favor of Phillips was in the cards, and any attempt to force that could well have gone the other way, with Kennedy writing a different opinion.

    Right, but my point stands. It was not a decision favoring freedom; it was against anti-religious bias in government. Any decision that gets two left wing justices should be viewed skeptically by liberty-loving conservatives.

    I have no disagreement with your perspective.  We should also remember that Kennedy, after Lawrence and Obergefell, is properly viewed as strong on gay rights.  So it seems a logical question to wonder why he was assigned this opinion.  I’d say very possibly because neither Roberts, Alito, Thomas, or Gorsuch would write it, and because the opinion they would write would not have been a majority ruling.  Here, as has been noted, we have a limited decision by Kennedy that gives some cover to Breyer and Kagan.

    • #16
  17. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    The decision seems to reflect a schizophrenia on this issue within the court’s reasoning, especially since two liberals who had voted for the majority in Obergefell joined the majority here.  If someone refused to bake a cake for a black wedding, or a black-white wedding, and cited his religious or moral beliefs, how far would he get? So the law now views race and sexual orientation as protected classes, but the former is more protected than the latter. On what grounds is such a distinction made? This is what happens when the court politicizes itself as it did in Obergefell, and tries to impose consensus when it hasn’t happened politically. They wanted gay marriage, and they imposed it, but without being willing to follow the logic to its conclusion. Civil rights in the racial arena has been enacted legislatively at both the national and state levels. Not so with sexual orientation. So now it’s kinda-sorta protected, which is exactly what you would expect when there isn’t much of a national political consensus on the issue.   

    • #17
  18. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Bob W (View Comment):

    The decision seems to reflect a schizophrenia on this issue within the court’s reasoning, especially since two liberals who had voted for the majority in Obergefell joined the majority here. If someone refused to bake a cake for a black wedding, or a black-white wedding, and cited his religious or moral beliefs, how far would he get? So the law now views race and sexual orientation as protected classes, but the former is more protected than the latter. On what grounds is such a distinction made? This is what happens when the court politicizes itself as it did in Obergefell, and tries to impose consensus when it hasn’t happened politically. They wanted gay marriage, and they imposed it, but without being willing to follow the logic to its conclusion. Civil rights in the racial arena has been enacted legislatively at both the national and state levels. Not so with sexual orientation. So now it’s kinda-sorta protected, which is exactly what you would expect when there isn’t much of a national political consensus on the issue.

    Which is why the next line of attack will be based on the immutability of homosexuality:

     

    • #18
  19. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    The majority ruling written by Kennedy is narrow because Colorado did not protect the baker’s civil rights. Kennedy wrote,

    “The (Colorado Civil Rights) commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” he wrote.

    Even going back to arguments in December (AP story in SeattleTimes online):

    But when the justices heard arguments in December, Kennedy was plainly bothered by comments by a commission member that the justice said disparaged religion. The commissioner seemed “neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs,” Kennedy said in December.

    Given that this illustrates an animus by the CCRC, it would seem more appropriate to say their behavior was hateful than to say the baker was being hateful.

    • #19
  20. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Bob W (View Comment):

    The decision seems to reflect a schizophrenia on this issue within the court’s reasoning, especially since two liberals who had voted for the majority in Obergefell joined the majority here. If someone refused to bake a cake for a black wedding, or a black-white wedding, and cited his religious or moral beliefs, how far would he get? So the law now views race and sexual orientation as protected classes, but the former is more protected than the latter. On what grounds is such a distinction made? This is what happens when the court politicizes itself as it did in Obergefell, and tries to impose consensus when it hasn’t happened politically. They wanted gay marriage, and they imposed it, but without being willing to follow the logic to its conclusion. Civil rights in the racial arena has been enacted legislatively at both the national and state levels. Not so with sexual orientation. So now it’s kinda-sorta protected, which is exactly what you would expect when there isn’t much of a national political consensus on the issue.

    Which is why the next line of attack will be based on the immutability of homosexuality:

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Bob W (View Comment):

    The decision seems to reflect a schizophrenia on this issue within the court’s reasoning, especially since two liberals who had voted for the majority in Obergefell joined the majority here. If someone refused to bake a cake for a black wedding, or a black-white wedding, and cited his religious or moral beliefs, how far would he get? So the law now views race and sexual orientation as protected classes, but the former is more protected than the latter. On what grounds is such a distinction made? This is what happens when the court politicizes itself as it did in Obergefell, and tries to impose consensus when it hasn’t happened politically. They wanted gay marriage, and they imposed it, but without being willing to follow the logic to its conclusion. Civil rights in the racial arena has been enacted legislatively at both the national and state levels. Not so with sexual orientation. So now it’s kinda-sorta protected, which is exactly what you would expect when there isn’t much of a national political consensus on the issue.

    Which is why the next line of attack will be based on the immutability of homosexuality

    Some people think pedophilia is immutable. I’ve read a lot of pedophiles do. Even ones who want to change.

    • #20
  21. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Does anyone else have a hankering for cake or is it just me?

    • #21
  22. Whistle Pig Member
    Whistle Pig
    @

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think your headline is quite accurate, Jon. SCOTUS decided against the blatant anti-religious bias of the anti-discrimination commission. It did not rule explicitly in favor freedom of conscience. The narrow crafting of the decision leaves open the distinct possibility that a more subtle anti-discrimination commission will win the next case against a Christian baker who refuses to express approval of same-sex marriage.

    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

    The selection of Kennedy to write such a narrow opinion leads me to speculate that Roberts had his hands full on this one. I don’t believe there was any way a broader 5-4 ruling in favor of Phillips was in the cards, and any attempt to force that could well have gone the other way, with Kennedy writing a different opinion.

    Right, but my point stands. It was not a decision favoring freedom; it was against anti-religious bias in government. Any decision that gets two left wing justices should be viewed skeptically by liberty-loving conservatives.

    I have no disagreement with your perspective. We should also remember that Kennedy, after Lawrence and Obergefell, is properly viewed as strong on gay rights. So it seems a logical question to wonder why he was assigned this opinion. I’d say very possibly because neither Roberts, Alito, Thomas, or Gorsuch would write it, and because the opinion they would write would not have been a majority ruling. Here, as has been noted, we have a limited decision by Kennedy that gives some cover to Breyer and Kagan.

    I haven’t read the dissent yet, but given the outrageous conduct of the CCRC (as Kennedy noted, they are supposed to protect people from discrimination on the basis of religion as well), I am a little surprised that an opinion as narrowly crafted as this, and with some landmines for religious liberty in the future, didn’t attract an even stronger vote.  I guess I will have to read Ginsburg’s dissent to see why she thought it was okay to compare not selling cakes with the holocaust. 

    • #22
  23. Adriana Harris Inactive
    Adriana Harris
    @AdrianaHarris

    I’m grateful for this decision today, but I don’t think the left is going to stop its relentless attacks anytime soon. 

    • #23
  24. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Picked up USA Today at the hotel desk today. According to them, “Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Three Year Later: Protections for LGBT familes are in peril”! Because of states with religious exemption laws. At their website they call the cake ruling “UnAmerican”. I forget, 3 years ago, was their headline “Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: Protections for Religious Liberty in peril”?

    • #24
  25. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Picked up USA Today at the hotel desk today. According to them, “Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Three Year Later: Protections for LGBT familes are in peril”! Because of states with religious exemption laws. At their website they call the cake ruling “UnAmerican”. I forget, 3 years ago, was their headline “Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: Protections for Religious Liberty in peril”?

    One can’t even the read the Sports section in USA Today anymore–which used to be the best thing in the rag–for fear of running across a pro-Kaepernick rant.  It’s worth less than what the hotels charge.  

     

    • #25
  26. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    I really appreciate that instead of entering a wide-reaching overwhelming decision, the Supreme Court entered a more detailed nuanced opinion that resolved the issues before it, and allowed the concurrences to battle out the larger issues.  

    7-2 is a huge win; the irony is that Justice Kennedy had written an opinion that struck down  a Colorado state law that had banned municipalities from enacting protections for homosexuals in Romer v. Evans in 1996, well before Lawrence v. Texas in 2002.

    • #26
  27. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Danny Alexander (View Comment):

    Looks like Samantha Bee is going to have to return to her bully pulpit and call Justice Kagan out for being a feckless ladypart, in 5-4-3-2-1… (Not holding my breath…)

    Male Supreme Court justices voted unanimously for freedom.

    Interesting way to receive the hate… 

    • #27
  28. Gumby Mark Thatcher
    Gumby Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think your headline is quite accurate, Jon. SCOTUS decided against the blatant anti-religious bias of the anti-discrimination commission. It did not rule explicitly in favor freedom of conscience. The narrow crafting of the decision leaves open the distinct possibility that a more subtle anti-discrimination commission will win the next case against a Christian baker who refuses to express approval of same-sex marriage.

    Like the rest of the battles against the Left (including Trump’s election), this is a temporary reprieve.

    The selection of Kennedy to write such a narrow opinion leads me to speculate that Roberts had his hands full on this one. I don’t believe there was any way a broader 5-4 ruling in favor of Phillips was in the cards, and any attempt to force that could well have gone the other way, with Kennedy writing a different opinion.

    Right, but my point stands. It was not a decision favoring freedom; it was against anti-religious bias in government. Any decision that gets two left wing justices should be viewed skeptically by liberty-loving conservatives.

    And the rationale used by Kennedy will be turned around and used as a spear to take down Trump’s travel ban.

    • #28
  29. Whistle Pig Member
    Whistle Pig
    @

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):
    And the rationale used by Kennedy will be turned around and used as a spear to take down Trump’s travel ban.

    Interesting thought, except the government is required to be a neutral decision maker of religious liberty claims because they are protected liberties under the First Amendment.  No one has the right to immigrate.  At least not yet.

    • #29
  30. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Note the following from Justice Kennedy’s opinion:

    And any decision in favor of the baker would have to be sufficiently constrained, lest all purveyors of goods and services who object to gay marriages for moral and religious reasons in effect be allowed to put up signs saying “no goods or services will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages,” something that would impose a serious stigma on gay persons.

    I have another solution for Christian cake-bakers.  Put up a sign that says something like, “All cakes provided by us will display a cross or bible citation or quote chosen by us, suitably blended into any design.”  

    • #30

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