Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v Colorado Civil Rights Commission: Colorado must be neutral in application of civil rights laws

The U.S. Supreme Court told the state of Colorado that it must be neutral in its application of equal rights laws in an opinion released today by the high court.  In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, at issue was whether the State’s requirement that the appellant create a cake for a same-sex wedding would violate the appellant’s right to free speech by compelling him to exercise his artistic talents to express a message with which he disagreed and would violate his right to the free exercise of religion? The Court answered in the affirmative, holding that Colorado did not apply its civil rights laws in a neutral manner.

In its analysis, the Court reiterated that religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and, in some instances, protected forms of expression. Masterpiece Cakeshop’s claim that the State compelled him to use his artistic skill to make a statement endorsing a gay couple’s wedding had significant First Amendment implications regarding the sincere religious beliefs expressed by the appellant.  Statements made during the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s hearing of the gay couple’s complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop were, according to the Court, clearly hostile to the appellant. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission had a duty under the First Amendment to not base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.

The individualist can’t help but be concerned about how the State apparatus, a civil rights agency, could be used to help extend one couple’s view of how the world should be over those who don’t agree with the view. Yes, as individualist we promote the individual’s choice to live their life as they see fit, according to their own personal rules. This includes exercising their personal sexual preference. So- called cultural conservatives are guilty of these attempts as well, most notably in the area of abortion where they show a heavy penchant for regulating a woman’s womb.

The Court made a call in the individualist favor although promoting individualism was the furthest thing from the Court’s mind. This holding is a reminder that sometimes the entire State apparatus has to call its own bluff when it comes to its claims that government is protector of liberty.