Proponents of religious liberty did a bit of a victory dance this morning when the Supreme Court announced their 7-2 decision in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips:
— Stacy Washington (@StacyOnTheRight) June 4, 2018
I am reading about a 7 – 2 vote. Pretty sure that's not narrowly… At least 2 dem leaning justices must have agreed. https://t.co/vOjX0mOHPf
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 4, 2018
Meanwhile, many on the left were found overreacting and panicking about the decision, even though the sky most certainly wasn’t falling:
I often get asked if #GrabYourWallet will ever go into local communities. I typically explain that boycotting small businesses (versus large ones) has a bunch of unique challenges, but the #MasterpieceCakeshop SCOTUS ruling today makes me stop and reconsider.
— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) June 4, 2018
This is what happens when #ChristianAltFacts go to SCOTUS. If our media and society keep enabling the Christian extremists who are Trump's base, it's only going to get worse.https://t.co/0chDhtASAI#PrideMonth #LGBTQ #MasterpieceCakeshop #Exvangelical #EmptyThePews #Resist https://t.co/C5Zx5bxSzV
— Christopher Stroop (@C_Stroop) June 4, 2018
There were calls for boycotts on Christian bakers, and other hyperbolic claims that “Christian extremists” are going to keep making things “worse” for the LGBT community.
The ACLU, meanwhile, completely misrepresented the case altogether:
Colorado law prohibits businesses open to the public, like #MasterpieceCakeshop, from denying service to anyone based on who they are, including their religion, race, or sexual orientation or gender identity.
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 4, 2018
No, Jack Phillips did not simply arbitrarily refuse someone because they were gay. It was the specific request the gay couple had that was the issue – baking a cake for a same-sex wedding, which stands in direct opposition of his religious views. If Phelps were demanding to know a customer’s sexual orientation prior to selling them items in his shop, and strictly denying service those who are homosexual, then, perhaps, the ACLU would be correct in their assessment. But that’s not what was happening. Phelps’ religious issue is not with the couple, rather participating in a ceremony, which he believes is in conflict to his religious beliefs.
Despite the freakout from many on the left, it turns out that there’s really not all that much to be upset about. In fact, many are actually happy with the ruling, arguing it could’ve been much worse.
As Faithwire noted in an earlier article, while the ruling was a win, it was hardly as sweeping as many initially thought:
The word "narrow" is correct in the reporting on the bakery. They didn't say a baker can avoid making the cake. They basically said religious freedom is a thing, you have to consider it, and Colorado didn't. It's narrow in its legal scope. (Which is why it was 7-2).
— STU BURGUIERE (@WorldOfStu) June 4, 2018
Liberal outlet Vox had this headline to assure it’s readers: “Why you shouldn’t freak out about the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling.”
In the article, Vox cites the opinion of the court, written by Justice Kennedy, to explain why the ruling could have been worse:
“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
Essentially, the Supreme Court “punted” on the broader issue at hand, according to Vox, basing their ruling on the very specific details surrounding this particular case. The court went on to explain, even warn, others not to use this as precedence to act in a similar fashion that Phillips did.
The court almost seems to take pains in making sure that despite this ruling, the government can take action of it’s own to prevent “discrimination” from happening. As Vox explained:
In the Court’s view, this was open hostility to Phillips’s religious beliefs — and that kind of hostility from a government body violates Phillips’s constitutional rights.
That’s not to say, however, that a government agency couldn’t balance out its interests in banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination with respect for individuals’ religious beliefs. On the contrary, the Court noted that state governments’ interests here “could have been weighed against Phillips’ sincere religious objections in a way consistent with the requisite religious neutrality that must be strictly observed.”
What went wrong here, then, is the process. It’s not that Phillips should, in theory, be allowed to cite his religion to freely discriminate. It’s that the way the Colorado Civil Rights Commission concluded that Phillips had illegally discriminated was very poorly handled.
While Phillips did indeed win, SCOTUS went the extra mile to ensure the LGBTQ that they were heard, protected, and unharmed.
Despite the specificity in the courts opinion, many media outlets, like Vox, continue to describe what Phillips did as “discrimination” rather than framing it in terms of what his actual motivating factor was: his personal religious beliefs.
Many questions still remain, as the main thrust of the case has not been decided. This is exactly why many on the left are letting people know, “it could’ve been much worse.”