The Supreme Court’s bind

As many of you may know, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Masterpiece yesterday. Full ruling here. The scope was extremely minor, which pretty much means it was a mistrial.

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.

The ‘mistrial’ happened because:

  1. Colorado tried to retroactively apply law to the baker. When these events occurred gay marriage was still illegal.
  2. Colorado affirmed 3 bakeries decision to not create cakes with anti-gay messages based on moral argument, but openly acted hostile and dismissive to Masterpiece based on moral argument.
  3. Masterpiece accommodated all customers regardless of race, sexual orientation, and so on given they could purchase any stock creations for any purpose including gay weddings and offered to bake cakes for any other purpose such as graduations, birthdays, and so on. The only thing he did not want to do was bake a cake affirming gay weddings.

By making this a ‘mistrial, the Supreme Court wanted to kick the can down the road for a bit because the topic is complex.

If they had overall ruled against, then the government would be a respecter of religions (e.g. not Christianity or any other religion where gay marriage is prohibited) which is against the first amendment. If they rule for, then it opens a whole can of worms where people can just claim a particular religious belief and deny service to anyone.

Both of these rulings would be harmful to Christians due to the fact that either Christianity is discriminated against or it comes off as Christianity is discriminating against people. That said, Christians will always be discriminated against as Jesus said the world would hate us, so I’m not particular concerned either way.

Gorsuch’s argument might be the way they figure it out:

Next, take the undisputed facts of Mr. Phillips’s case.Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins approached Mr. Phillips about creating a cake to celebrate their wedding. App.168. Mr. Phillips explained that he could not prepare a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding consistent with his religious faith. Id., at 168–169. But Mr. Phillips offered to make other baked goods for the couple, including cakes celebrating other occasions. Ibid. Later, Mr. Phillips testified without contradiction that he would have refused to create a cake celebrating a same-sex marriage for any customer, regardless of his or her sexual orientation. Id.,at 166–167 (“I will not design and create wedding cakes for a same-sex wedding regardless of the sexual orientation of the customer”). And the record reveals that Mr.Phillips apparently refused just such a request from Mr.Craig’s mother. Id., at 38–40, 169. (Any suggestion that Mr. Phillips was willing to make a cake celebrating a same-sex marriage for a heterosexual customer or was not willing to sell other products to a homosexual customer, then, would simply mistake the undisputed factual record.See post, at 4, n. 2 (GINSBURG, J., dissenting); ante, at 2–3,and n. (KAGAN, J., concurring)). Nonetheless, the Commission held that Mr. Phillips’s conduct violated the Colorado public accommodations law. App. to Pet. for Cert.56a–58a.

The facts show that the two cases share all legally salient features. In both cases, the effect on the customer was the same: bakers refused service to persons who bore a statutorily protected trait (religious faith or sexual orientation). But in both cases the bakers refused service intending only to honor a personal conviction. To be sure, the bakers knew their conduct promised the effect of leaving a customer in a protected class unserved. But there’s no indication the bakers actually intended to refuse service because of a customer’s protected characteristic. We know this because all of the bakers explained without contradiction that they would not sell the requested cakes to anyone, while they would sell other cakes to members of the protected class (as well as to anyone else). So, for example, the bakers in the first case would have refused to sell a cake denigrating same-sex marriage to an atheist customer, just as the baker in the second case would have refused to sell a cake celebrating same-sex marriage to a heterosexual customer. And the bakers in the first case were generally happy to sell to persons of faith, just as the baker in the second case was generally happy to sell to gay persons. In both cases, it was the kind of cake, not the kind of customer, that mattered to the bakers.

We shall see.

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2 Responses to The Supreme Court’s bind

  1. Lexet Blog says:

    Watch for further development regarding the government not being able to judge whether or not a religious belief is sincerely held. It is a sword and shield, but I see this being used to further absurdity

  2. glosoli says:

    Fiddling while Rome burns.
    If sodomites are a protected class of people, it’s obvious God is cursing your nation.
    America has always been anti-Jehovah, hence their period of quasi-Empire has been so short and violent. Let it all burn.

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