Analysts Parse Kennedy's Words in Gay Cake Case

He is expected to be the deciding vote, and he might be leaning toward the baker
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2017 5:45 PM CST
Analysts Parse Kennedy's Words in Gay Cake Case
In this Nov. 8, 2017, file photo, Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cake, speaks during a rally on the campus of a Christian college in Lakewood, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

So must a baker make a cake for a gay couple even if he opposes same-sex marriage? The answer, it seems, lies solely with Anthony Kennedy. That's the gist of coverage from Tuesday's closely watched arguments in the Supreme Court. The Washington Post reports that the four more liberal justices seemed to side with the gay couple, while the four more conservative justices leaned toward the baker. That leaves Kennedy in the familiar position of casting the deciding vote, but he didn't seem particularly happy with either side on Tuesday. He sent "sharply contradictory" messages with his questions, per Adam Liptak in the New York Times. In an analysis at SCOTUSblog, however, Amy Howe suggests that when all was said and done, the edge seemed to go to the baker.

Kennedy "initially seemed sympathetic to the same-sex couple but later expressed real concern that Colorado had not been sufficiently tolerant of the baker’s religious freedom," she writes. Along those lines, the Wall Street Journal calls attention to one of Kennedy's comments in which he declared, “It seems to me the state has been neither tolerant or respectful” of the baker’s views. However, the story then quickly noted that Kennedy's comments "cut in opposite directions." One possible outcome being floated: Given concerns voiced by Kennedy and others that the state's civil rights commission treated baker Jack Phillips unfairly, the court could send the case back to the commission with orders for an unbiased hearing. A decision is expected this summer.

(More US Supreme Court stories.)

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