In a prior MuniBlog posting we covered a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court involving a Colorado baker and concerns about non-discrimination laws and religious objections. In Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
While the Supreme Court recognized the rights of same-sex couples to equal protection, it found that individuals also have religious protections. In its ruling, the Supreme Court wrote that “[T]he government, consistent with the Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise, cannot impose regulations that are hostile to the religious beliefs of affected citizens and cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or pre-supposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices.”
The majority opinion of the Court seemed troubled by the questions presented in this case but also concerned by the manner in which the State of Colorado treated the baker, finding that the state courts did not address the case with “the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.” Perhaps as a means of further limiting this opinion, the Court noted that when the same-sex couple first arrived to request a wedding cake in 2012, the state itself had not prohibited the refusal by businesses to sell to same-sex couples.
At the time of our original MuniBlog posting we noted that the Justices seemed very conflicted, likely to result in a complicated decision. Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Breyer, Alito, Gorsuch and Kagan all agreed with the majority (and some of these justices filed concurring opinions). Only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor did not agree, at least in part, with the Court.