The Supreme Court ducked a decision Monday on whether religious merchants can deny service to gay people, finding that a Christian baker didn’t get a fair hearing before a state civil-rights commission but issuing no broader precedent.
The ruling, by a 7-to-2 vote, is a victory for Jack Phillips, who turned away Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins when they came to order a wedding cake from his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which found the baker in violation of state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
From reading through the ruling, it appears the Supreme Court found the commission treated the baker unfairly by not considering that the First Amendment protects everyone from 1) not having to say something if he or she doesn’t want to, and 2) not having to say specific words if he or she doesn’t want to. So this came down to a decision about how the commission/lower courts treated this person on free speech. It also touched on the government not being able to impose regulations that are hostile to religious beliefs of affected citizens. But it focused mainly on free speech.