Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that he was “pleased” at the Supreme Court’s narrowly reasoned 7-2 decision in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the focus of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
“We are pleased with today’s Supreme Court decision,” Sessions said in a statement. “The First Amendment prohibits governments from discriminating against citizens on the basis of religious beliefs. The Supreme Court rightly concluded that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to show tolerance and respect for Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs.”
“In this case and others, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the free speech and religious freedom First Amendment rights of all Americans,” he added.
The court ruled narrowly Monday. Rather than deciding that businesses in general had the right to refuse service to gay customers on the basis of religious belief, the justices focused on Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which had previously ruled against baker Jack Phillips, and the bias the court said it showed in his case.
The Justice Department filed an amicus brief in the case last year arguing, essentially, that Phillips’ First Amendments rights as a baker trumped his obligation not to discriminate specifically against gay customers.