Former superior court judge and columnist Andrew Napolitano has described the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips as “dangerous.” On Monday, the highest court in the United States ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack Phillips and his claim that forcing him to bake a cake would violate his religious beliefs.
“The state of Colorado enforces its own version of its own civil rights laws which says that you cannot discriminate if you have a public accommodation, on the basis of sexual orientation,” Napolitano told Fox News Insider. “The baker says ‘my discrimination is rooted in my religious beliefs.’ The Supreme Court found that the state of Colorado has a duty under the First Amendment to be scrupulously neutral in religious beliefs, but yet, they were not neutral, they were hostile to the Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
Napolitano elaborated on why this particular ruling was so unique.
“With respect to this case and this case only, the baker prevails because the baker’s decision not to bake the cake is rooted in his religious beliefs,” he explained
The former New Jersey judge expressed his concern over the ruling being used as legal precedent for others to cite when discriminating against customers. “I think this is a dangerous decision,” he said. “Because it will allow others to say ‘my religious beliefs prohibit me from dealing with women, or Italians or African Americans, and they will base it on the logic in this case.”
Napolitano added that he was shocked the decision was not closer. “I thought it would be 5-4,” he said.
While it’s a big win for Phillips and certainly better than a loss, the ruling didn’t quite become the standard for all future similar legal cases. Media headlines describing “narrow” are technically correct, but not being explained well and leaving the impression that this was a close ruling. It wasn’t, but the legal precedent it sets was.
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
Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the court:
“Whatever the confluence of speech and free exercise principles might be in some cases, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s consideration of this case was inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality. The reason and motive for the baker’s refusal were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions. The Court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws,” he wrote.
“Still, the delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself would not be a factor in the balance the State sought to reach. That requirement, however, was not met here. When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires. Given all these considerations, it is proper to hold that whatever the outcome of some future controversy involving facts similar to these, the Commission’s actions here violated the Free Exercise Clause; and its order must be set aside.”
You can read the full opinion of the court HERE.