Rules On Religious Clause
Can businesses refuse to provide certain services to
customers based on religious objections.
That was the question before the Supreme Court in the
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling Monday in favor
of Masterpice Cakeshop [a bakery in Lakewood, CO.] who
refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Masterpiece Cakeshop made headlines in 2012 when it’s owner
refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based
on his religious beliefs.
The couple sued and two years later the Colorado
Civil Rights Commission said that Phillips violated the
Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.
In 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld earlier
rulings in favor of the couple.
The case was finally heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and
rendered a decision in favor of the Baker.
But, the court did not rule on the larger issue of
whether businesses can discriminate against potential
customers based on religious beliefs.
Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled that the state
commission’s actions in this case violated the Free Exercise
Clause under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,
which prohibits Congress from making laws “respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise”
In the opinion authored by Supreme Court Justice Anthony
Kennedy, the court noted that members of the Commission
showed hostility toward the religious beliefs of Phillips,
the business owner, during hearings on the matter.
"The commissioner even went so far as to compare Phillips’
invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to
defenses of slavery and the Holocaust," Kennedy wrote. "This
sentiment is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the
solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of
Colorado’s antidiscrimination law — a law that protects
discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual
In 1993 the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] became law.
It offered religious protections for individuals and
However, it was not until 2014 when Hobby Lobby
challenged the law that the Supreme Court ruled that
for-profit organizations were also covered.
30 States have their own Religious Freedom Restoration
First Amendment and Religion
MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, LTD., ET AL. v. COLORADO CIVIL
RIGHTS COMMISSION ET AL.
Wikipedia: Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA]