Same-sex wedding cake case: Supreme Court fails to rule on discrimination and the First Amendment

In ruling for the baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, the U.S. Supreme Court said the Colorado Civil Right Commission had erred in their ruling against the baker but found that state laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual discrimination were valid. The court did not define the boundaries between the right to equal service in establishments open to the public and the right of business owners to refuse service based on First Amendment freedoms of religion and speech. (San Francisco Chronicle, June 4, 2018, by Bob Egelko)

Two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, said they thought the baker’s artistic expression in making the cake should have First Amendment protection. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said the cake could not be viewed as speech or expression protected by The First Amendment since the making of the cake could not reasonably be construed as the baker’s message rather than the couple’s. (Reason, June 4, 2018, by Eugene Volokh)

The court made it clear that there were dangers in allowing free speech and religion claims that the baker advanced and cited Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises where the Supreme Court refused to allow a chain of barbeque restaurants to use religion to turn away Black customers. (The American Civil Liberties Union, June 4, 2018, by James Esseks)