The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a baker in Colorado cannot be forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
It’s notable that the opinion uses very contained, narrow language, using only the specific facts of this case.
The ruling and opinion gives no hint as to how the Supreme Court will decide future cases in which people might refuse service to people engaging with practices they don’t agree with. Marriage equality and religious freedom are, of course, at the forefront of cases like this, with business owners, florists, bakers and photographers being common areas of contention and controversy.
In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court said legal proceedings in Colorado showed a hostility to the baker’s religious views. Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake in Denver has refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Many of Phillips’ business practices are affected by his faith. For example, he closes on Sundays and doesn’t make any cake celebrating Halloween. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission said Phillips couldn’t discriminate be refusing business for same-sex weddings, so he decided to stop making wedding cakes altogether. He said it took about 40 percent of his business.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also wrote the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in 2015, said: “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.” (h/t NBC News)
The ruling gives little instruction or precedence to lower courts on how to resolve similar cases, and many of these types of situations are circulating through those lower courts as of this writing.