Supreme Court Sides with Baker who Refused to Make a Cake for a Gay Couple

June 5, 2018

© Trevor Hughes-USA TODAY

The Colorado baker (Jack Phillips) who refused to make a gay couple's wedding cake celebrated yesterday after the Supreme Court sided with his case.

© Trevor Hughes-USA TODAY

The justices' ruling was limited, though. It didn't deal with the biggest concern in the case: whether religious people could refuse to serve gay or lesbian people.

After Phillips refused to make a cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012, the gay couple filed a complaint with the Commission. The Commission ruled in their favor, saying Phillips had violated the state's anti-discrimination law, which bars businesses from discriminating against customers based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. 

The justices voted 7-2 that the Commission violated Phillips' First Amendment right to exercise his religion. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy was bothered by the comments from the Commission in the original case, which seemed 'neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs'.

Kennedy also noted that the commission had ruled the opposite way in three other cases brought against bakers in which the business owners had refused to bake cakes containing messages they disagreed with that demeaned gay people or same-sex marriage. In all of those cases, the Commission allowed the bakers to refuse to decorate their cakes with a message they found offensive.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the two who voted against the baker. 

Ginsburg says Kennedy's focus on the three other instances in which bakers were allowed to refuse writing 'offensive' signs on cakes is no parallel to Phillips' case. 'Phillips declined to make a cake he found offensive where the offensiveness of the product was determined solely by the identity of the customer requesting it.’