Although the Supreme Court handed Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Bakery a “narrow” win that applies only to his incident with Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission and doesn’t set up a sweeping rule enabling anti-LGBT discrimination, many anti-LGBT groups have hailed the decision as a major win for religious freedom and now so does Donald Trump’s White House.
White House Press Secretary Sarah “Smokey Eye” Huckabee Sanders hailed Tuesday as a win for religious freedom the narrow ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to serve a custom-made wedding cake to a same-sex couple.
“When it comes to the bakers, we were pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision,” Sanders said. “The First Amendment prohibits government discriminating against the basis of religious beliefs, and the Supreme Court rightly concluded that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to show tolerance and respect for his religious beliefs.”
Sanders also alluded to support in the lawsuit for Masterpiece Cakeshop by the Trump administration. The U.S. Justice Department submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips and U.S. Solicitor General Neil Francisco argued before the Supreme Court on his behalf.
“In this case and others, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the free speech and religious freedom First Amendment rights,” Sanders said.
The Supreme Court’s vote was narrow not because of the number of justices for and against, but because of the slim precedent it sets.
The justices did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views. 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 Constitution’s free speech guarantee. But simpler minds like those of many LGBT hate group leaders, their followers and it seems the White House itself is refusing to recognize that.
Two of the court’s four liberals, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, joined the five conservative justices in the ruling authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also was the author of the landmark 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
“The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Kennedy wrote.
But Kennedy also stressed the importance of gay rights while noting that litigation on similar issues is likely to continue in lower courts.
“Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” Kennedy wrote.
“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,” Kennedy added.