WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court is setting aside a Colorado court ruling against a baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. But the court is not deciding the big issue in the case, whether a business can refuse to serve gay and lesbian people.
The justices' limited ruling Monday turns on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The justices voted 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillips' rights under the First Amendment.
Justice Anthony Kennedy says in his majority opinion that the issue "must await further elaboration." Appeals in similar cases are pending, including one at the Supreme Court from a florist who didn't want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford released the following statement after the ruling:
“For the second time in a little over one year, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 to uphold the foundational principle and constitutional right to the free exercise of religion and the dignity of all persons. No one should be treated as inferior or with hostility from their government. The Court also reiterated again that government must be neutral in its consideration of religion. This decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop affirms that the free exercise of religion is more than the freedom of worship, it’s the right to live and work according to a faith of your choosing or to choose no faith at all. In a diverse and free society, we can disagree as Americans on topics like marriage, sexuality, and conscience, but still respect the views and conscience of all without forcing a belief on everyone.”
“The free exercise clause of the First Amendment is vital to our individual freedom. The Supreme Court has overwhelmingly and justly protected the Bill of Rights with this ruling," Rep. Steve Russell said.
“Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for religious freedom and vindicates Jack Phillips, who was unfairly discriminated against for his beliefs,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said. “Few constitutional rights are as important to Oklahomans as the freedom of religious expression. I am dedicated to supporting the First Amendment and will continue to do everything I can to ensure religious liberties continue to be protected in similar cases moving forward.”