The Supreme Court blasted the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for its anti-Christian bias when it accused a bakery of bias against same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of a devout Christian baker who refused to bake a gay wedding cake, a lopsided ruling which indicates the justices didn’t vote among party lines.
In Monday’s ruling, the Supreme Court said the “commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case violated the State’s duty under the First Amendment not to base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.”
In other words, the commission wasn’t ensuring equality under the law but was instead showing preference for one group over another.
The ruling could have major political implications on future cases involving Facebook, Twitter and Google, all of which have been accused of censoring conservative news sites such as the Drudge Report while simultaneously showing favor to liberal causes.
The gay cake dispute began in 2012, two years before gay marriages were even legal in Colorado, a fact which bolstered the baker’s defense that was already cemented on First Amendment grounds.
The baker, Jack Phillips, argued that “requiring him to create a cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his right to free speech by compelling him to exercise his artistic talents to express a message with which he disagreed and would violate his right to the free exercise of religion.”
According to the AP:
Colorado law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the commission concluded that Phillips’ refusal violated the law. Colorado state courts upheld the determination.
But when the justices heard arguments in December, Kennedy was plainly bothered by comments by a commission member. The commissioner seemed “neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs,” Kennedy said in December.
This bias even bothered some of the liberal justices because it had no basis in neutral application of law.
In the Supreme Court’s own words:
The State Civil Rights Division concluded in at least three [separate] cases that a [more gay-friendly] baker acted lawfully in declining to create cakes with decorations that demeaned gay persons or gay marriages.
Phillips too was entitled to a neutral and respectful consideration of his claims in all the circumstances of the case.
That consideration was compromised, however, by the Commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case, which showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.
As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the Commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillips’ faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.
No commissioners objected to the comments. Nor were they mentioned in the later state-court ruling or disavowed in the briefs filed here. The comments thus cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court pointed out that, as a governmental body, the commission doesn’t have the authority to determine whether the religious grounds of Phillips’ argument are “legitimate or illegitimate.”
To summarize, the commission is not the Spanish Inquisition.
The commission describes itself as a “seven-member, bipartisan board,” and its membership consists of three Democrats, two independents and one Republican.
“Two commissioners represent business (one of whom represents small business), two represent government, and three represent the community at large,” according to its web site. “At least four of the commissioners are members of groups who have been or might be discriminated against because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, or age.”