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Gay Cake Case: How a 7-2 Decision Is 'Narrow'

Supreme Court sides with baker, but didn't settle big question of gay rights vs. religious liberty
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2018 10:10 AM CDT
Updated Jun 4, 2018 12:55 PM CDT
A file photo of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

(Newser) – In one of the most closely watched cases of its current term, the Supreme Court sided with a baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple. But even though the decision was 7-2 in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, the ruling is seen as a narrow one in a legal sense, reports CNN. That's because the justices issued their ruling to apply to the specifics of this case and didn't settle the bigger issue: whether business owners have a right to refuse gay patrons on religious grounds. As Anthony Kennedy wrote, that issue "must await further elaboration," per the AP. Details and developments:

  • The origins: The case began in 2012 when same-sex couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Phillips' Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood to make a cake for their wedding. Phillips refused, saying he objected to gay marriage because of his religious beliefs, and a six-year legal fight ensued. See a timeline at Fox News.
  • The ruling: The Supreme Court declared that the state's Civil Rights Commission erred by treating Phillips' religious objections with "hostility," reports the Washington Post. A key quote: "The State’s interest could have been weighed against Phillips’ sincere religious objections in a way consistent with the requisite religious neutrality that must be strictly observed," wrote Kennedy. "But the official expressions of hostility to religion in some of the commissioners’ comments were inconsistent with that requirement ..."

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