Let Them Eat Cake

The world needs more cake.
Image courtesy of Stockvault.

The U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) just issued its ruling in the Masterpiece Cake case (click here for the Wikipedia notes on it). For those not familiar with it, it was a case involving a Colorado baker who didn’t make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception. The couple filed a complaint under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”). A commission hearing the case found in favor of the couple.

SCOTUS held that the commission was required to exercise neutrality towards litigants with regards to the free exercise of religion. Because a commissioner was allowed to make non-neutral remarks against the baker in its decision, this neutrality was not present. As a result, the commission’s ruling was reversed.

What does this even mean?
While many people were probably looking forward to another landmark decision, this case reflects what SCOTUS normally does in controversial times. It found a way to sidestep the larger controversy, passing on the bigger issue. In the opinion, the Court recognized that at least two fundamental rights were at issue for the baker, with many different problems in reconciling them (Masterpiece Cakeshop, at 1-2). Ruling a specific way might cause problems later on down the road.

First, there was the issue of the free exercise of religion (“Free Exercise”). It’s a somewhat vague right granted in the First Amendment, and it’s historically been tough to pin down. In this case, Free Exercise meant the baker not wanting to use his skills to make a cake for a gay wedding reception.

Second, there was the issue of the right to free speech (“Free Speech”). It’s also found in the First Amendment, but it’s a little better defined. Still, making the decision on these grounds might end up with some weird results. On one end, bakers might be allowed to get around equal treatment by using speech as a pretext. The other extreme might require bakers to do all sorts of shocking and offensive things to satisfy customers’ whims.

Instead of deciding either of these things, SCOTUS just said the commission wasn’t neutral. Significantly, it reversed the order without remanding for further proceedings. In effect, this means the baker won and won’t have to do anything the commission ordered him to do. Also, it does not give other bakers a license to just stop making cakes for gay weddings.

Where do we go from here?
When someone opens a business to the public, whatever duties that might entail is certainly up for debate. The boundary between a private citizen and a business owner can get blurred. In other words, if this baker was just doing this informally, there wouldn’t be a case here. This matter could have been settled privately.

Really, coming to an agreement is something everyone should want. What if the baker told the couple that making the cake would have made him uncomfortable? Maybe the couple would have tried to find a different baker out of respect for that person’s feelings. Or maybe they could have talked it out, and the couple could have put his fears to rest. Either of these situations would have been more preferable to throwing the situation into a legal meat grinder.

The sad fact is that this case doesn’t do justice to the many gay couples out there who just want to celebrate a happy occasion. Straight couples generally don’t have to worry about being refused sale on religious grounds. This includes people of different faiths. Gay couples are not inherently any less deserving of such human dignity.

9 thoughts on “Let Them Eat Cake

  1. Hey S.B., hope you are doing well. I posted today about the hardware store in Tennessee who posted a “No Gays Allowed” sign on his store entry to celebrate the “win” he says religious people got from the Supreme Court. I had always thought that at my age I would be in a country long past this type of bigotry. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just read the post. I think there’s going to be bigots and small-minded people in any age. My hope is that it only happens by choice and not because society forces it on people. If someone wants to hate other people for silly reasons, I can’t stop them.

      It also means more cake for the rest of us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You just reminded me of a line from one of the more science video games I play callled portal. In the game the joke is you are enticed by getting cake at the end, and all through it you find different notes saying “the cake is a lie”. Thanks for the laugh. Hugs

        Like

      • Grand I loved that voice. Also in the second one the weird science guy was crazy. I think I need to get the game out and play it again. For me it is harder on the Xbox than the computer. Do you play it? Hugs

        Like

  2. Great post! You clarified several things that I don’t think most of us were aware of. I know I wasn’t. I just took the typical stance of “stinkin’ evangelicals!”

    Your suggestion related to “coming to an agreement” is, of course, the ideal. But also, IMO, a pipe dream. *sigh*

    Liked by 2 people

    • Coming to agreements will eventually be the norm. Every other form of discrimination has had to give way to at least some measure of public acceptance. While it might not amount to private acceptance, it means that people have to respect others’ rights to live without hurting others.

      In the meantime, it’s a great time to have gay friends. With all the marriages going on, there’s going to be lots of cake. And I love cake.

      Liked by 3 people

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