The media is reporting a “victory” for religious liberty.
But today’s ruling was a very small win for religious liberty. And many important questions remain unresolved.
First, the good news.
The Supreme Court stated that “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
That’s good to hear. After all, the elites in entertainment and the media routinely smear everyone who doesn’t celebrate same-sex ‘marriage’ as “bigots.” Seven justices on the Supreme Court agree that our views on marriage are protected.
That led the Supreme Court to rule 7-2 that the state government (in this case, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission) was “neither tolerant nor respectful” towards baker Jack Phillips’ Christian view on marriage. In fact, the Court said the Commission showed “clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.”
The Supreme Court pushed back strongly over the anti-Christian bigotry of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That’s also great news.
But the Supreme Court limited itself to ruling on the conduct of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. They decided against setting a precedent in this case. In fact, one could easily conclude, based on today’s ruling, that states are permitted to punish wedding vendors who refuse to participate in same-sex ‘weddings’ so long as the state is not overtly hostile to religion while they do it.
In other words, the Supreme Court did not recognize a robust First Amendment right to religious liberty for bakers like Jack Phillips. They simply said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission went too far.
The Court punted most of the real issues brought up in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case — leaving Congress or (more likely) a future Supreme Court to hand down a final ruling.
That simply means we live to fight another day.
Just imagine how much worse today would have been if Merrick Garland were on the Supreme Court. If that had happened, there’s no doubt in my mind the Court would have demanded that Jack “bake the cake!”
Thankfully, we have Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. And that means there are four strong votes in favor of robust religious liberty. And yet there are also four liberals ready to chip away at our First Amendment right to religious expression.
The battle for the courts remains up for grabs.
The Senate has the power to confirm new judges.
Remember in November.
P.S. At the Trump administration’s request, the Supreme Court today also decided to throw out a lower-court ruling in an abortion case. The government told an illegal immigrant seeking an abortion that she had to stay at the shelter or return to her home country.
But the ACLU got a federal court to order the government to escort her to an abortion facility. Sadly, the unborn child was aborted the next day. The Supreme Court’s decision to throw out the case at least means that no legal precedent is set by the lower court’s misguided ruling. Again… this just shows us how important the battle for the judiciary really is.