June 4, 2018
Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111
Decided June 4, 2018
The Supreme Court held 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the Free Exercise Clause when it rejected a baker’s religious justification for refusing to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The couple then filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. After investigating, the Commission concluded that Phillips had violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and rejected his argument that providing the cake would violate his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. The Commission held formal public hearings about the case, during which some commissioners disparaged Phillips’ religious beliefs and suggested they were insincere.
Whether the Commission’s decision violated the Free Speech Clause or Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Yes. The Commission violated the Free Exercise Clause because it did not give “neutral and respectful consideration” to the sincere religious beliefs that motivated Phillips’ objection.
What It Means:
“[T]hese disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority
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