Supreme Court Gives Baker Only Half a Cake?
On Monday, June 4, 2018, the Supreme Court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the Free Exercise Clause in its treatment of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple due to his own religious opposition to same-sex marriages. The baker, a devout Christian, refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012 because, to him, participating in the wedding would have been contrary to his deeply held religious beliefs. The same-sex couple filed a complaint against the baker under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act ("CADA") which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in places of public accommodation. The majority concluded that that the baker was not afforded the "neutral and respectful consideration" of his claims by the Commission, citing "clear and impermissible hostility" toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated the baker's objection. As a result, Colorado violated its duty under the First Amendment not to base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.
Given the arguably narrow ruling of the Court, several issues remain unresolved. Justice Kennedy, who penned the majority opinion, provided some additional guidance saying that "these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue respect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market." Some may argue that the baker only got a half of the cake—but a tasty half in his win.
Link to the Court's Opinion: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-111_j4el.pdf