What Could The Ramifications Be
Some will regard the ruling – that service providers of any religion, race or sexual orientation can refuse to endorse a message they profoundly disagree with – as a victory for freedom of expression and freedom of ideas, says BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman.
The ruling now poses the question whether it would be lawful, for instance, for a bakery to refuse to make a bar mitzvah cake because the bakers’ owners disagreed with ideas at the heart of the Jewish religion? What about a cake promoting “the glory of Brexit”, “support fox hunting”, or “support veganism”?
As a result of Wednesday’s ruling, there are likely to be further cases in which services are refused on the basis of beliefs held by the service providers, adds our correspondent.
‘most Expensive Cake In Uk History’
Questions will now be asked as to whether the Equality Commission was right to spend more than Â£250,000 of public money on this case.
DUP Ian Paisley MP said he has written to the Northern Ireland Secretary calling for a review of the organisation’s funding.
I have written to the Secretary of State for NI calling for a review of funding for the equality commission. After such a decisive finding by the Supreme Court the equality commissions immediate response has been to threaten to waste more public money on this case. Stop it now!
Ian Paisley MP
The commission backed Mr Lee, who ordered the “gay cake” but was refused.
Four years later, the Supreme Court has ruled it was not a case of discrimination.
Ashers bakery has spent more Â£200,000 on the case. It is being paid by The Christian Institute, a charity and lobby group.
The cake at the centre of the dispute would have cost Â£36.50.
It has proved to be the most expensive cake order in UK history.
A Colorado Judge Today Determined That A Lakewood Bakery Unlawfully Discriminated Against A Gay Couple By Refusing To Sell Them A Wedding Cake
David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop last year, with Craigs mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home in Colorado. Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips informed them that because of his religious beliefs the stores policy was to deny service to customers who wished to order baked goods to celebrate a same-sex couples wedding.
Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration, said Mullins. No one should fear being turned away from a public business because of who they are. We are grateful to have the support of our community and our state, and we hope that todays decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.
Longstanding Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. Mullins and Craig filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division contending that Masterpiece had violated this law. Earlier this year, the CCRD ruled that Phillips illegally discriminated against Mullins and Craig. Todays decision from Judge Robert N. Spencer of the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts affirms that finding.
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What Is The Row About
Customer Gareth Lee requested a cake featuring the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, iced with the message: “Support Gay Marriage.”
His order was initially accepted at a branch of Ashers in Belfast city centre, but two days later the baking firm’s head office contacted Mr Lee to say the firm would not make the cake.
Colorado Civil Rights Commission
While another bakery provided a cake to the couple, Craig and Mullins filed a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission under the state’s public accommodations law, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating against their customers on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Colorado is one of twenty-one U.S. states that include sexual orientation as a protected class in their anti-discrimination laws. Craig and Mullins’s complaint resulted in a lawsuit, Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop. The case was decided in favor of the plaintiffs the cake shop was ordered not only to provide cakes to same-sex marriages, but to “change its company policies, provide ‘comprehensive staff training’ regarding public accommodations discrimination, and provide quarterly reports for the next two years regarding steps it has taken to come into compliance and whether it has turned away any prospective customers”.
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The Court Said The Colorado Civil Rights Commission Violated Masterpiece Cakeshop Owner Jack Phillips’ First Amendment Right To Oppose Same
9:44 AM on Jun 4, 2018 CDT
This story has been updated throughout.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Colorado baker had the right to refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
In a 7-2 decision Monday, the court said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips’ First Amendment right to oppose same-sex marriage when it expressed hostility toward “his sincerely held religious beliefs.” While it sided with Phillips in this case, the court made clear its ruling doesn’t give businesses free rein to discriminate against LGBT customers.
“When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. “Given all these considerations, it is proper to hold that whatever the outcome of some future controversy involving facts similar to these, the commission’s actions here violated the Free Exercise Clause and its order must be set aside.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling found the commission and a Colorado appeals court that also ruled in favor of the gay couple had erred. But Kennedy warned the court could come to a different conclusion in future similar cases.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
1/5Jack Phillips at his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colo., in 2014. Phillips’ refusal to make a cake for a gay couple led to a Supreme Court battle.
Wrong Time Wrong Case
Analysis by Gary O’Donoghue, BBC Washington Correspondent
For the owner of the Masterpiece bakery, the ruling is unquestionably a victory. But for those on both sides of the argument hoping this case would deliver a definitive constitutional view, there will be disappointment.
The court was clearly reluctant to take a categorical view at this stage – witness this line from the judgement: “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” – which means both sides in the general debate live to fight another day.
The seven-to-two outcome also indicates the justices – four of whom are regarded as more liberal – felt this was neither the time nor the case on which to decide the general constitutional balance between freedom of religious belief and state laws barring businesses from discriminating.
However, given the harsh words the justices had for the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, many states with similar laws will now be looking carefully at how they prosecute such cases.
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What Does This Mean For The Law
When Mr Lee first took action against the firm, he said the bakery’s actions left him feeling like a lesser person.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no political discrimination as well as no discrimination based on Mr Lee’s sexual orientation.
“This conclusion is not in any way to diminish the need to protect gay people and people who support gay marriage from discrimination,” said Lady Hale.
“It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief.
“But that is not what happened in this case.”
Five Supreme Courts justices travelled to Belfast earlier this year to hear the case.
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Us Supreme Court Backs Christian Baker Who Rebuffed Gay Couple
7 Min Read
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Colorado baker who refused based on his Christian beliefs to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, stopping short of setting a major precedent allowing people to claim religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.
The justices, in a 7-2 decision, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an impermissible hostility toward religion when it found that baker Jack Phillips violated the states anti-discrimination law by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012. The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
The court concluded that the commission violated Phillips religious rights under the U.S. Constitutions First Amendment.
But the justices did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religion. The decision also did not address important claims raised in the case including whether baking a cake is a kind of expressive act protected by the Constitutions free speech guarantee.
Two of the courts four liberals, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, joined the five conservative justices in the ruling authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also wrote the landmark 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
Supreme Court Hears Why Baker Refused To Make Wedding Cake For Gay Couple
After the couple filed a formal complaint, the Colorado courts ruled that the state’s public accommodation law, which bans discrimination by companies offering their services to the public, did not allow Phillips to refuse the gay couple’s request. So he appealed.
Requiring him to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, he said, would violate his First Amendment rights by requiring him to express a view, through his cakes, that is counter to his religious beliefs.
Much of Tuesday’s 80-minute argument involves what-ifs. If a cake is a form of expression, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked, what about flowers, the invitation or the wedding menu? Justice Elena Kagan, in the same vein, asked what about the make-up artist or the hairdresser?
“That’s not speech,” said Kristen Waggoner, appearing on behalf of Phillips.
“Some might say the same about cakes,” Kagan replied.
Colorado courts said a reasonable person would assume that the cake expressed the message of the couple, not the baker. And the ACLU’s David Cole, arguing for the gay couple, said that was correct.
“If a mother asks a bakery for a cake that says ‘Happy Birthday’ and serves it at her child’s birthday, no one thinks that’s the baker’s wishes. They think it’s the mom’s.”
While the court struggled with the issue of whether a cake is a means of expression, the justices also seemed troubled by whether a ruling for Phillips could open the door to more widespread discrimination in the name of religious freedom.
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Colorado Court Of Appeals
Masterpiece appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals with the aid of Alliance Defending Freedom, and refused to comply with the state’s orders, instead opting to remove themselves from the wedding cake business Phillips claimed that this decision cost him 40% of his business. Alongside the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the American Civil Liberties Union represented Craig and Mullins during the appeals. The state’s decision was upheld on the grounds that despite the nature of creating a custom cake, the act of making the cake was part of the expected conduct of Phillips’s business, and not an expression of free speech nor free exercise of religion. The court distinguished its decision in Craig from another case, brought to the Commission by William Jack, in which three bakeries refused to create a cake for William Jack with the message “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22″,:21 citing that in the latter, the bakeries had made other cakes for Christian customers and declined that order based on the offensive message rather than the customers’ creed, whereas Masterpiece Cakeshop’s refusal to provide Craig and Mullins with a wedding cake “was because of its opposition to same sex marriage which…is tantamount to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation”.:21
The Supreme Court of Colorado declined to hear an appeal.:3
Ashers ‘gay Cake’ Row: Bakers Win Supreme Court Appeal
The Christian owners of a Northern Ireland bakery have won their appeal in the so-called “gay cake” discrimination case.
The UK’s highest court ruled that Ashers bakery’s refusal to make a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage was not discriminatory.
The five justices on the Supreme Court were unanimous in their judgement.
The high-profile dispute began in 2014 when the bakery refused to make a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”.
The customer, gay rights activist Gareth Lee, sued the company for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and political beliefs.
But the bakery has always insisted its objection was to the message on the cake, not the customer.
The legal battle – which has lasted four-and-a-half years and has cost nearly Â£500,000 so far – has raised questions over equality and freedom of conscience.
Ashers bakery’s general manager Daniel McArthur said he was delighted and relieved by the ruling.
“I know a lot of people will be glad to hear this ruling today, because this ruling protects freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for everyone,” Mr McArthur said outside the court.
Mr Lee said the case had made him feel like a second-class citizen and that he was now concerned about “the implications for all of the gay community”.
“To me, this was never about conscience or a statement. All I wanted to do was to order a cake in a shop,” he said.
Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin welcomed the decision.
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What Was The Judge’s Response
Judge Wiley Y. Daniel said he believed the Supreme Court’s ruling was relevant to the current case and that he was inclined to allow the case to move forward.
He also noted that in the now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy’s conclusion, the commission had shown “hostility” toward religion, according to the AP report.
Daniel said he would issue his written decision at a later date.
Another hearing is set for February.