The Masterpiece Cakeshop decision is a small speed bump in the progressive’s war on religion, as well as a roadmap for the future.
The progressive attempt to use “gay rights” as a cudgel to destroy the Judeo-Christian religions in this country hit a very small speed bump today with the Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Court held that Colorado had impermissibly denied a bakers right to free exercise of religion. Most media are describing the decision as “narrow.” It was a 7-2 decision, with only the most liberal justices, Sotomayer and Ginsburg, dissenting. So it was not a narrow decision in that sense.
The decision is “narrow” in the sense that the opinion is closely tailored to the unique facts of the case. The majority opinion was written by that budding gay romance novelist Justice Kennedy – the same man who has authored every Supreme Court decision finding for homosexuality and, usually, against religion since 1996 (Romer (Equal Protection clause applies to homosexuals) Lawrence (religion cannot be used as a basis for laws), Windsor (striking down the Defense of Marriage Act), and Obergefell (creating a right to gay marriage out of whole cloth)). His opinion is anything but a clear vindication of the Judeo Christian right of religious conscience. Almost to the contrary, Kennedy’s opinion is nothing more than a warning to progressives that, if you are going to war on Christianity, hide your anti-religious bias.
The facts of the case were simple. A baker was approached (or targeted, not sure, though targeting is often the case) by a gay couple to bake their wedding cake. He refused on the basis of his Christian religion. They filed a claim with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) which, while displaying open hostility to Christianity, found for the gays. The baker stopped making wedding cakes, thus losing 40% of the profits of his business. And the baker appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that the CCRC violated his First Amendment Rights by abridging his free exercise of religion. The same CCRC subsequently decided several cases in favor of bakers who had refused to bake cakes on which was a message condemning homosexuality or homosexual marriage.
Justice Kennedy defined the issue:
The case presents difficult questions as to the proper reconciliation of at least two principles. The first is the authority of a State and its governmental entities to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services. The second is the right of all persons to exercise fundamental freedoms under the First Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.
Actually, no, there are no difficult questions. This is simple. The First Amendment explicitly protects the religious conscience of Christians and Jews against any government intrusion. Unless and until that is abrogated by a validly passed Amendment, it cannot be de facto abridged by the government. Period. The only difficult part for Kennedy is that he can’t figure out a way around that in this case, where the CCRC was so openly anti-Christian in their bias.
Later Kennedy states “Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason the laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights. ” (emphasis added) Hardly. Our society has been continuously overruled on gay rights, gay marriage, and a host of other social issues by five unelected people on the Supreme Court. Kennedy is either supremely arrogant or so fatally flawed that he actually thinks his decisions are a better barometer of what society wants than the ballot box and the decisions of elected representatives in a society of over 300 million people.
Here is where the CCRC went off the rails:
The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection. That hostility surfaced at the Commission’s formal, public hearings, as shown by the record.
. . . One commissioner suggested that Phillips can believe “what he wants to believe,” but cannot act on his religious beliefs “if he decides to do business in the state.”
. . . [A second] commissioner stated: “I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.”
. . . The commissioner even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of 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 antidiscrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.
Rather than state what should be the ironclad rule, that respect for freedom of Judeo-Christian conscience means the state may not impose upon it, whether it be the conscience of a baker or the Little Sisters of the Poor, the sum of Kennedy’s opinion is that it was the statements of the CCRC commissioners that tipped the balance in this case. As Kennedy writes:
While the issues here are difficult to resolve, it must be concluded that the State’s interest could have been weighed against Phillips’ sincere religious objections in a way consistent with the requisite religious neutrality that must be strictly observed. The official expressions of hostility to religion in some of the commissioners’ comments—comments that were not disavowed at the Commission or by the State at any point in the proceedings that led to affirmance of the order—were inconsistent with what the Free Exercise Clause requires.
In other words, feel free to continue the war on religion, just hide your motives.
Justice Thomas, in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Gorsuch, notes that this is an issue the Court must address with a general rule, not in the ‘narrow’ manner crafted by Justice Kennedy. Thomas states:
In Obergefell, I warned that the Court’s decision would “inevitabl[y] . . . come into conflict” with religious liberty, “as individuals . . . are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” 576 U. S., at ___ (dissenting opinion) (slip op., at 15). This case proves that the conflict has already emerged. Because the Court’s decision vindicates Phillips’ right to free exercise, it seems that religious liberty has lived to fight another day. But, in future cases, the freedom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to “stamp out every vestige of dissent” and “vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” Id., at ___ (ALITO, J., dissenting) (slip op., at 6). If that freedom is to maintain its vitality, reasoning like the Colorado Court of Appeals’ must be rejected.
Of course, long before this case, and as far back as 2008, Bookworm was sounding the alarm that the push for gay marriage was never about equal rights for gays. It is and always has been the progressive left’s most effective weapon to drive Christianity and Judaism out of the public square, and to quite literally destroy a person’s ability to own a business and make a living. Today’s decision is a speed bump and a road map for proggies.
Let’s all hope, for the sake of the country, that Justice Kennedy finally goes into retirement. And who knows, if the stars align just right, maybe Justice Ginsburg will join him.