Jack Phillips is not required to bake a cake in contravention of his religious beliefs. That was the decision from the Supreme Court in perhaps the biggest case this term, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado.
What about other bakers, and how about butchers and candlestick makers? May bakers and others engaging in creative commercial endeavors refuse to create messages demanded by homosexuals based on their sincerely held religious beliefs? Perhaps.
The holding was 7-2, but not all seven Justices who agreed Phillips prevails, agree on why.
This is a narrowly drafted decision that gives Mr. Philips and his cake store a victory but does not establish a bright line rule. How the Court will decide other cases in future litigation on whether it is permissible to discriminate against certain messaging is still undecided.
The statists wanted a bright line rule forcing the baker to do the bidding of his customers celebrating a homosexual wedding, even though doing so violated his (undisputed) sincerely held religious beliefs. Those who favor liberty wanted a bright line rule establishing freedom from compelled labor and production at the hands of the state. Neither side got what it wanted from the Court with this decision.
This ruling instead delivers Phillips a victory based on how the Colorado Civil Rights Commission treated him “which showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.” The Court’s ruling is narrow here because it only applies to these particular facts. We don’t know what would happen if the commission gave him a fair hearing with the same result. We’ll just have to wait for another gay couple who wants to use the power of the government to punish a religious wedding vendor whose faith compels them to decline a commission.