Kennedy Sends Mixed Messages in Supreme Court Cake Case

06 December, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Charlie Craig and David Mullins are shown in their home in Denver on Nov. 28. The Colorado couple is at the core of a legal case that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments on Dec. 5

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the 2015 opinion that sanctioned same-sex marriage, is considered the crucial swing vote in the case.

The justices left intact a June ruling by the Republican-dominated Texas Supreme Court that revived a lawsuit backed by a conservative group aimed at blocking Houston from offering such benefits.

"If Craig and Mullins had gone to a state office and said, 'We want a marriage license, ' they would not have been accommodated", Alito said.

Pidgeon and Hicks, also backed by state Republican leaders, argued that the benefits violated the Texas constitution and state and local laws against same-sex marriage. As Phillips put it, he declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because "using his God-given talents to promote same-sex marriage would go against his religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman".

But even as he authored the court's landmark decision, Kennedy held out an olive branch to religious conservatives.

When Francisco said that would be permissible, Kennedy said, "And you would not think that an affront to the gay community?" More than 20 states have similar laws.

Kennedy later seemed to side with Phillips when he told a lawyer for the commission: "Tolerance is essential in a free society". Craig and Mullins, he noted, could have been served by "other good bakery shops that were available" in the Denver suburbs.

David Cole, an attorney for Mullins, a 33-year-old poet and musician, and Craig, a 37-year-old interior designer, said he respected the sincerity of Phillips' convictions. He refuses to design custom cakes for Halloween, divorce celebrations, bachelor parties or other events that conflict with his religious views. A jeweler? A makeup artist?

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No, Waggoner said, "because it is not speech". While she argued that the free exercise clause forbids the commission from targeting Phillips "and like-minded believers for punishment", she reserved the bulk of her brief for the free speech clause, perhaps targeting Kennedy, who has at times shown an expansive view of free speech.

A few onlookers and place holders started holding up in line last Friday to secure one of the uncommon seats open to the general population in the lofty court. "That's what everybody is trying to get to". The commission ruled in their favor and Phillips then appealed the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Flash forward to 2012, when same sex marriage was not yet legal in Colorado, but two men walked into the bakery. Phillips says he has faced death threats and harassment and is "struggling just to make ends meet". That struck him as unfair, he said. In 2013, it ruled that the federal government must recognize gay and lesbian marriages in the 12 states that had legalized them.

Colorado native Neil Gorsuch, taking part in the most important gay rights case since he joined the Supreme Court in April, asked Cole whether a baker who made a cake shaped like a red cross to celebrate relief efforts would have to make the same cake for the Ku Klux Klan.

In any case, the administration legal counselors drew a line with regards to race, contending that laws focusing on race-based segregation may survive uplifted First Amendment investigation to some degree in light of the fact that racial predisposition "is a well-known and repeating malicious that stances one of a kind verifiable, sacred and institutional concerns".

Supporters of both sides gathered outside the court and inside the crowded chamber as lawyers presented their arguments to the nine Supreme Court justices during a 90-minute hearing.

The couple documented a protest with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which led to support them, refering to a state against segregation law.

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