Jun 13, 2018, 6:11 PM ET

Sessions hails Supreme Court ruling in favor of baker who refused to bake cake for gay couple


Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday hailed the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of a baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple because it violated his religious beliefs.

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"There are plenty of other people who will bake that cake. Give me a break!" Sessions said in a speech at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center's Annual Leadership Mission in Washington, D.C. — a group that co-authored an amicus brief with other religious organizations in support of the baker.

"There is no need for the power of the government, no need for the state's power, to be arrayed against an individual who is honestly attempting to live out, to freely exercise his sincere religious beliefs," Sessions said, congratulating the group for the "victory."

PHOTO: Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips decorates a cake inside his store in Lakewood, Colo.Brennan Linsley/AP, FILE
Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips decorates a cake inside his store in Lakewood, Colo.

In a 7-2 ruling last week, the court disagreed with a Colorado court's previous ruling that the gay couple, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, had been discriminated against based on sexual orientation and ruled in favor of the appeal by the baker, Jack Phillips. The opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was hostile to Phillips' First Amendment rights and that his "religious objection was not considered with the neutrality that the Free Exercise Clause requires."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

The attorney general's comments came ahead of his announcement of a new Department of Justice initiative aimed at protecting religious liberty.

Last year, the Trump administration sided with Phillips, who owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., and issued an amicus brief arguing that forcing Phillips to bake the cakes "invades his First Amendment rights."

"Phillips views the creation of custom wedding cakes as a form of art, to which he devotes his creativity and artistic talents," the brief reads. "... When Phillips designs and creates a custom wedding cake for a specific couple and a specific wedding, he plays an active role in enabling that ritual, and he associates himself with the celebratory message conveyed."

Phillips maintained in an interview with ABC News last week that he said no to the baking of the cake itself and not to serving the couple.

"We serve everybody who comes in the shop. We just can’t create every cake they ask us to," he said and added that he would also refuse to bake cakes with a Halloween theme or ones with "anti-American" messages.

News - Sessions hails Supreme Court ruling in favor of baker who refused to bake cake for gay couple

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  • FUlly baCKed ABaCuS

    I can't stand religious nuts, but they have the right to run their private businesses how they want.

  • Tim Berton

    If not for the CO Civil Rights Commission's hostility to religion, Kennedy may have sided with the 4 liberals against the baker. His decision recognized that gay marriage is a right and states have the right to enact nondiscrimination laws for businesses.

    Ginsberg's dissent pointed out a major flaw in logic in the majority decision, which equated bakers who refused to sell cakes demeaning gay marriage with plaintiff Phillips, who refused to sell any wedding cake to a gay couple.

    The bakers refused to sell demeaning cakes to anyone, which is perfectly legal since all customers were denied the product. Phillips refused to sell wedding cakes just to gay couples, which is illegal discrimination based on sexual preference.

  • bibleexpert

    "There is no need for the power of the government, no need for the state's power, to be arrayed against an individual who is honestly attempting to smoke a plant that he or she likes," Sessions said.

    Say what? I'm misquoting? Sorry - my bad.

  • Lee Thompson

    The SCOTUS didn't really 'decide' anything. This issue will be back . . .

  • Bronx

    Of course he does. He believes in religiously based discrimination.

  • Rubber Banned

    Guess he's trying to get back on Trump's good side.

  • Peter Carson

    I think this is a dangerous decision. I live in a small town with many single providers of service - hospital, groceries, hardware, pharmacy, etc. The next town if an hour away. If one of these businesses decided to not do business with me over something I cannot control - gender, ethnicity, sexuality, race, weight, etc., that would have a significantly negative affect on my life. I believe businesses should do business with everyone and not get to pick and choose. An exception would be if I did something unacceptable - perhaps treating their employees badly. Then I would deserve for them to withhold service.

  • Barbara

    Religion does not belong in government or commerce. If you are that sensitive you have no business serving the public.

  • John Springer

    Good , it makes sense to have the protections of individual beliefs, although I am an atheist, I would not expect a Christian to decorate a cake with the say "God is dead" , not if I was a Muslim who owned a burger joint, would I expect him to make me a bacon burger.

  • Curt Rapp

    I'm not biblical scholar, but my understanding is that God judges people on their so-called sins. It is not up to people to judge other people. So if that's true, this person is simply using religious dogma as a shield for his bigotry of gays. The SCOTUS did not consider this possibility. The SCOTUS also left it wide open for anyone to challenge non-discrimination laws as an infringement on their "religious beliefs". Elections have consequences. I wonder how many gay people didn't vote or voted third party just because Bernie didn't get the nom. Bet they're regretting that decision.

  • DuelingDogmas

    One day, someone will wake Lil' Jeffy up and tell him what the decision actually said.

    It only said that the Colorado agency the ruled against him was too hostile to his religious beliefs, NOT that he was being unfairly treated or was in good standing. The SCOTUS ruling said nothing about whether this was a Free-Speech or Freedom of Religion issue and the ruling supports neither side on those matters.

    It only said that he was unfairly treated at the local level by the Colorado agency, nothing more, and because of that the case was decided in his favor.

  • rkb555

    "There is no need for the power of the government, no need for the
    state's power, to be arrayed against an individual who is honestly
    attempting to live out, to freely exercise his sincere religious
    beliefs," Sessions said
    LBGT has to become a protected grp. It's as simple as that. Man has distorted the interpretation of God's word for so long, he uses it to defend his discriminatory actions. Once upon a time religion was used to justify slavery. It only took several centuries for the enlighten man to realize blacks among other grps actually needed protection from american conservatism.

  • mv75

    Since it's a privately owned business they should be allowed to refuse service for just about any reason. But as far as I'm concerned, people in my orbit don't get to use the religion excuse with me. How convenient is that? "I'm a bigot because my religion tells me to be a bigot so you can't criticize me for it because it's out of my control!" Well folks, when you're a Christian you behave as Christ would behave. Period. You emulate his behavior and his kindness and his tolerance. You don't get to go old school and pull passages from the old testament to justify your hangups and bigotries with me. Tell it to your friends, family, coworkers, or strangers on the street, but try it with me and I'll tell you off so completely your ancestors will blush.

  • Independent

    It appears the ruling was narrowly defined and for me it fits this case but does not open the door for general misuse of the protections. I have listened to both sides and both sides appear sincere.

  • Dwight Francis david

    No cake for you !

  • TexasVulcan

    Once Democrats retake the White House, gay can be added to the civil rights law.

  • murray

    vulgar petty comment from a high official. has no sense of propriety.

  • Millard Farquar

    Then can someone refuse service to those who don't condone gay marriage?

  • Nearl45 61

    We don’t need another cheerleader as Atty Gen.

    We need a sober Constitution follower.

    Sessions hails the decision, yet fails to note that the reasoning behind the decision was extreme prejudice by the State...not that the Baker had a right to discriminate.

    Go back to ruining parents and children’s lives by forced separation Jeff. That’s the kind of work you love anyway.

  • Carp Bottomfeeder

    Much ado about nothin'. I agree for once with Sessions on this one.

  • Murfski

    Did Sessions actually read the SCOTUS decision? The baker won solely because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission "showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objections." The major freedom of speech questions were not answered. The whole thing is is still wide open, and will be re-litigated at some time in the future -- probably sooner rather than later.

    FWIW, Jack Phillips, the baker, did not refuse to serve the couple. He offered to sell them any cake in the store, or to make them a cake that did not celebrate single-sex marriage. His religious principles did not allow him to condone such a union.

    I'm not coming down on either side on this one. It was not a defeat for gay rights, nor was it a victory for religious freedom (or oppression, depending on your viewpoint). Jack Phillips won on a technicality, which left open all the questions that many people seem to think were answered.