Victory for US Christian baker at Supreme Court

Supreme court rules in favor of baker in same-sex wedding cake case

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down their opinion in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on Monday.

But the court did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views. Dissenting in the ruling was U.S. Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was joined by U.S. Associate Justice Sonia Sotamayor.

Colorado law that protects gay people's rights to buy products "must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion".

Twenty-one states, including Colorado, now have anti-discrimination laws protecting people from being refused service on the grounds of sexual orientation.

John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, as well as a law professor at Chapman University's Fowler School of Law in Southern California, predicted "a lot of the human rights commissions will lose a lot of those cases. due to their targeting of religious beliefs".

President Donald Trump's administration intervened in the case in support of Phillips.

But the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 7-2 vote that that decision had violated Mr Phillips' rights.

For the baker's supporters, the case was about finding a way to respect conflicting beliefs about marriage. The Arizona-based group brought suits on a behalf of a wedding photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington state and the Colorado baker whose case reached the Supreme Court.

The Sweet Cakes owners have appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. Therefore, Kennedy concluded, the commission's order - which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports - "must be set aside".

The couple sued Stutzman in a case that went to the state Supreme Court, where justice ruled that Stutzman violated the state's anti-discrimination law and the Consumer Protection Act.

Thus, the larger question of whether bakers or other providers of services may categorically refuse to provide services for same sex weddings was not resolved by the Court, and will likely need to be addressed in a future decision.

After the couple sued six years, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled in their favor in 2014 and the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld that decision a year later.

The court's other two Jewish justices, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, sided with the majority. Moreover, Kennedy added, the commission's treatment of Phillips' religious objections was at odds with its rulings in the cases of bakers who refused to create cakes "with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage".

- The commission was inconsistent, the ruling said.

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

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