Gay Wedding Cakes: SCOTUS goes 7-2 in favor of 1st Amendment with narrow instruction

The Supreme Court has handed down a 7-2 decision on the question of bakers and cakes and gay weddings, and Colorado’s clear hostility toward religion as protected by the 1st Amendment seems to have impacted that ruling:

The justices, in a 7-2 decision, faulted the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s handling of the claims brought against Jack Phillips, saying it had showed a hostility to religion. In doing so, the commission violated his religious rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. …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.

While the court seemed to take this opportunity to, more than anything else, re-assert the fundamental validity of 1st Amendment protections for religious beliefs — and that’s not nothing — it doesn’t mean the issue is “settled”:

But the court 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 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 said.

You can read the whole decision at the link.

Kennedy’s words remind me a bit of something I wrote back in the heyday of the controversy — and before the Obergefell decision that settled the marriage issue:

Powers wrote: “Maybe they should just ask themselves, ‘What would Jesus do?’ I think he’d bake the cake.”

Perhaps he might; it seems to me that baking a cake for a same-sex wedding, even if one does not agree with the concept, may well come under the heading of walking along a road for two miles with someone who “presses you into service” for one.

But perhaps he wouldn’t; all we can do is make our best guesses. True, if the road is heading toward that nebulous region of “tolerance” that has become so difficult to locate in American society, we should all be willing to walk a ways with each other, but eventually we will reach departure points that can and should be respected. Many can travel as far as Powers’ “he’d bake the cake” exit, but then must get off, before the road reaches “Jesus would officiate at a same-sex wedding.” … Meanwhile, if we lose the ability to respect that people can only go as far as their consciences will allow, we risk becoming mired in a muck of illusion, imagining hate where none exists, equating compelled behavior with authentic love, and losing sight of the fact that traveling together sometimes means that we walk the extra mile on one challenging road, and they walk it on the next. Everyone spares a bit of shoe-leather for the sake of the other. This is how love travels.

Finally, this is still true:

People need to weigh their passionate feelings with careful thought before they chip away at the inviolability of individual conscience, and those who believe it can be legislated against should beware of hypocrisy; they are often the same people who argue that when it comes to abortion, a woman’s own mind—her individual conscience and reason—outweighs what used to be called “conventional morality.”

We should never play with deciding what parts of individual conscience are real and what are not. That two justices did not feel compelled to scold Colorado’s hostility toward religion is worth noting.



Image: Davidlud-cc



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2018-06-04T11:24:23+00:00

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