Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding.
I wish I could say the ruling was a huge win for the First Amendment. All I can say is that it was not necessarily a loss for the First Amendment. A win would have been a decision affirming an individual’s right to operate his business, and create art, in accordance with his sincerely held religious beliefs. The 7-2 decision passed down by the Court this morning does not offer any precedent so sweeping or important as that. Instead it finds, in this specific case, that the baker’s rights were violated because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed open hostility to Phillips’ religious convictions. But what if they were more subtle in their hostility? What if a Christian business owner is targeted by cleverer bullies? What about all of the other Christian business owners who have been legally penalized for refraining from participating in gay weddings? This decision has nothing to say on any of those questions. This salvo from the fascist gay Left was blocked, but there is nothing stopping them from firing another round. And then another. And then another. The fight continues.
But even if the Court basically punted on the broader questions, it is still good to pause and appreciate the fact that the innocent victim won in this case and the vindictive bullies lost. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission clearly bullied Phillips and sought to punish him for his religious views, even at one point comparing his cake refusal to the Holocaust. They have now been thoroughly humiliated, and I imagine they will face considerable backlash from their fellow liberals for squandering a golden opportunity. This is all worth celebrating.
And we should also rejoice that the other bullies — the gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig — failed to achieve the victory and admiration they were chasing. While the Supreme Court focused its rebukes on the Civil Rights Commission, I think a hearty rebuke is owed to these two men, who targeted Jack Phillips and sought to ruin his life and his business for no good reason.
Remember that Jack Phillips was well known for his devout Christian beliefs before that fateful day when Mullins and Craig walked in the door. Phillips would regularly refuse to create customized cakes for events he found morally problematic. Yet, of all the bakers in the area, these two gay men just so happened to seek the services of the one baker who was so orthodox that he wouldn’t even make Halloween cakes. It does not take much of a logical leap to see that this was quite intentional.
It is said that Phillips “refused to serve” Mullins and Craig. That’s not true. He offered to sell them any item in the store. He would have even sold them a wedding cake. The only thing he would not do — could not do – was customize one. So, the gay men could have simply purchased a standard wedding cake. Or they could have left the store and gone to literally any other bakery in the state. Decent human beings would select either of those two options. But Mullins and Craig are not decent human begins. They opted for option three: set out on a years-long process to utterly destroy Jack Phillips, take down his business, and impoverish his family.
They failed. Praise God they failed. They richly deserve this failure and the public humiliation that accompanies it. But there are more bullies waiting in the wings to try and successfully accomplish what Mullins and Craig failed to do. We must remain vigilant. The First Amendment lives another day, but its long-term prospects remain in doubt.