Today the U.S. Supreme Court has settled the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in favor of the Colorado baker, Jack Philips, by a 7-2 vote. This was a landmark case and a great victory for religious liberty. The decision set aside a Colorado court ruling against the baker on an encounter Phillips had with Charlie Craig and David Mullins in July 2012.
A press release from Alliance Defending Freedom, the firm the represented Phillips in the case, stated, “We have exciting news! Minutes ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the State of Colorado violated Jack Phillips’ First Amendment freedom when the government punished him for operating his business according to his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage. In other words, the court upheld Jack’s freedom to live and work consistently with his beliefs."
Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the conservative justices in the outcome. Only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
The case, which was heard last Dec. 5, has been highly anticipated for months and I have been thinking that Justice Anthony Kennedy would have to cast the deciding vote to break a 4-4 vote. He did not have to break a tie vote, but he did write the majority opinion, which consisted of 59 pages.
Phillips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, refused to bake a cake to celebrate the marriage of a same sex couple because of his beliefs as a Christian.
Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president and general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, admitted that the case has “sweeping ramifications.”
She added, “Jack serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held beliefs. Creative professionals who serve all people should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment.”
Jerry Pierce, writing for Decision Magazine explained, “The issue is compelled speech. It’s whether the government has the power to compel someone to speak a message that violates their religious convictions. Most constitutional scholars believe that Masterpiece will have significant impact, perhaps for a generation, and that’s the most significant religious liberty case in generations.”
The Atlanta Braves have been behind in the ninth inning on several occasions lately, but in the bottom of the ninth, some Braves batter has taken a mighty swing and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when all looked dark and foreboding.
Jack Phillips’ battle for First Amendment freedom just goes to show that we can never give up the fight for religious liberty. Just when you think the battle is lost, God comes through in the last moment to rescue those who trust Him.
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