The decision, however, is not as bad for gay rights as it could have been.
The issue of whether businesses can refuse to serve members of the LGBTQ community "must await further elaboration", Kennedy wrote in the decision.
Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, was previously judged through multiple phases of litigation to have violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law.
The court concluded that the commission violated Phillips' religious rights under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. In a brief exchange, Phillips said he could sell the couple other goods, but not a wedding cake, because same-sex marriage ran against his religious beliefs.
She's appealed to the U.S. That is why Kennedy was able to focus his opinion on how the commission treated the baker, not on how the baker treated his customers. Applying them because you find discrimination generally to be "despicable" would likewise not be impermissible religious discrimination.
Applying antidiscrimination laws to a baker simply because he violated those laws, the Court said, might be constitutional (depending on whether that violates the Free Speech Clause, a matter on which the majority did not opine).
The Court noted that Phillips had no problem selling other items to gay people, he just did not want to actively support something that went against his religious beliefs by creating a new cake specifically for a gay wedding.
The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, is not the wide-ranging ruling on religious liberty that some expected. "I strongly disagree, however, with the court's conclusion that Craig and Mullins should lose this case". In its broadest form, the scenario of the baker who won't bake the cake for the gay couple poses a deep conflict between the baker's liberty and the couple's equality. "They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law". Wisconsin Democrat Cathy Myers said that the decision will only embolden other "bigoted bakers", while writer Robert Sandy said that the decision gave Phillips license to be a "homophobic a**hole".
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent which was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, argued that "when a couple contacts a bakery for a wedding cake, the product they are seeking is a cake celebrating their wedding - not a cake celebrating heterosexual weddings or same-sex weddings - and that is the service (the couple) were denied". Fellow liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan voted with the majority. Included among them was the court's 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
That consideration was compromised, however, by the Commission's treatment of Philips' case, which showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious beliefs motivating his objection. "What prejudice infected the determinations of the adjudicators in the case before and after the Commission?" The comments thus cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission's adjudication of Phillips' case.
"We are pleased with today's Supreme Court decision", Sessions said in a statement.
Yet the case does provide a tantalizing hint that Kennedy might provide the fifth vote to strike down the travel ban.
The Colorado commission did not respond to WND's request for a comment.