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40 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

NATIONAL

Supreme Court sidesteps major ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop case Justices cite hostility to religion by Colorado commission By CHRIS JOHNSON The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped a major decision Monday in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, issuing a narrow decision based on the facts of the lawsuit in favor of a Colorado baker sued for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In the 7-2 decision written by U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court vacated the decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals against baker Jack Phillips on the basis the state commission handling his case displayed a religious bias against him. “When the Colorado Civil Rights

Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires,” Kennedy writes. Kennedy concluded his ruling by making clear it provides no precedent for cases in which individuals and businesses assert a First Amendment right to refuse service to same-sex couples, insisting that determination must come at a later time. “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these 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,” Kennedy wrote. As evidence of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s hostility toward Phillips’ religious views, Kennedy cites language the commissioners used as they heard the

SERIOUS

case in 2014, including one commissioner’s words that religious views are “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use.” During oral arguments in the case before the Supreme Court, Kennedy has expressed concern over these words from the commission, prompting observers to speculate the court might issue a decision punting the case and remanding it for reconsideration without hostility toward religion. In the decision, Kennedy writes those words from the commissioner demonstrates hostility toward Phillips’ religion both by describing as despicable and by characterizing it as merely rhetorical. “This sentiment is inappropriate for a commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law — a law that protects against discrimination

PAIN RELIEF.

on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation,” Kennedy wrote. But the decision keeps in place Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Kennedy writes the ability to refuse wedding-related services to same-sex couples under the First Amendment should be restricted to clergy and laws against anti-LGBT discrimination are valid. “If that exception were not confined, then a long list of persons who provide goods and services for marriages and weddings might refuse to do so for gay persons, thus resulting in a community-wide stigma inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights laws that ensure equal access to goods, services, and public accommodations,” Kennedy writes. Kennedy cites the 1968 decision in Newman v. Piggy Park Enterprises in which a business cited a First Amendment right to refuse to serve black customers with white customers despite then-recent passage of

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Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018

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