The U.S. Supreme Court today handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Colorado Christian baker who refused for religious reasons to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, stopping short of setting a major precedent allowing people to claim exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs.
The justices, in a 7-2 decision, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an impermissible hostility toward religion when it found that baker Jack Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012. The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
The ruling concluded that the commission violated Phillips' religious rights under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.
The 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.
"Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack's religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that," said lawyer Kristen Waggoner of the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Phillips.
Waggoner said the decision "makes clear that the government must respect Jack's beliefs about marriage."
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Reported by: CNBC