The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Christian baker from Colorado who refused for religious reasons to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, stopping short of setting a major precedent allowing people to claim exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs.
The justices, in a 7-2 decision, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an impermissible hostility toward religion when it found that baker Jack Phillips violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012.
The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
The ruling concluded that the commission violated Phillips’ religious rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
But the court did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views.
The decision also did not address several of the claims raised in the case, including whether baking a cake is a kind of expressive act protected by the constitution’s guarantee of free speech.