In 2016, I wrote about the state of Colorado’s attempt to destroy Masterpiece Cakeshop over a thought crime. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission had dug into Jack Phillips’ soul and established that his refusal to create a unique cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig was driven by personal animosity towards gay customers. Unelected officials across the country, it seemed, could now determine if your faith were genuine or not, then punish you accordingly.
So a 7-2 Supreme Court decision pushing back against this kind of attack on religious liberty is welcome even if that decision is a narrow legal victory. For Phillips, the man who refused to create a specialized cake for the ceremony of a same-sex couple due to his religious objections, this is, at the very least, a victory over the imperious bigots of the commission, even if the decision leaves many vital questions unresolved.
Although I’ll leave legal parsing to lawyers, the fact is that we still don’t know if a state can compel a baker — or any other small business owner in the service industry, for that matter — to create specialized products that infringe on his sincerely held religious convictions simply because a consumer demands it. The biggest problem, it seems to me, is that legal decisions can be meted out using mind reading that favors the state’s bias over the individual’s belief.
Most mainstream news outlets still assert that Phillips refused to bake a wedding cake (even though gay marriage wasn’t legal in Colorado when the incident occurred) and that he denied the couple “service.” Phillips didn’t query his customers about their sexual preferences, however, and he never barred any same-sex couple from purchasing products made in his shop, a place of public accommodation. The problem was the specialty cake, not the people buying it.
Read more at The Federalist.