In a 7-2 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution when it forced Jack Phillips to make a cake for a same-sex wedding he morally opposed under the state’s public accommodations law.
“The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views in some instances protected forms of expression,” the majority opinion said.
“While it is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other member of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”
Kennedy said the commission showed a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating Phillips’ objections to making the custom cake.
Kennedy said comments during public hearings before the commission in the case disparaged Phillip’s faith as despicable and compared his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.
“This sentiment is inappropriate for a commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law — a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation,” Kennedy said.