Today, in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the court voided the order of a lower court ordering a Colorado baker to pay punitive damages and cease refusing to prepare wedding cakes for lesbian and gay couples. However, analysis of the decision finds it on temporary grounds and open for a different outcome when it is eventually decided on constitutional grounds.
The case centers on a well-publicized refusal by a bake shop to make a wedding cake after the nature of the wedding was revealed to them.
The court found, by a 7-2 vote, that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was unfairly hostile to the shop’s religious objections and essentially never gave the baker a fair hearing. So it sent it back for a new hearing where the baker may have a chance.
Two Justices, Thomas and Gorsuch, went further and said they would have allowed the refusal on religious grounds. But the other five prevailing Justices did not go there in this opinion. In fact, there were five separate opinions in this matter, including one dissent. Maybe they will take that step when it inevitably comes back. Maybe not. But this case was today decided on the unfair procedure used in the initial proceeding and not on any religious freedom or LGBT rights issue.
I’ve included some lengthier discussion in the SCOTUSBlog post on the topic.