It’s not surprising that a confusing, cowardly decision from the Supreme Court would draw out confused, cowardly politicians who don’t actually believe in anything other than pandering to their constituents. So it was this week when the Supreme Court decided the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in such a way that, other than its effects on Masterpiece Cakeshop specifically, gave utterly no guidance on how these cases should be treated in the future. In a 7-2 decision, the court made the right call – deciding in favor of plaintiff Jack Phillips, who was unjustly persecuted for his Christian beliefs – but for the wrong reasons, narrowly limiting the scope of their ruling to the WAY in which the Colorado Civil Rights Commission came to their original persecution.
So, yeah, that’s a situation ripe for confusion. The court may as well have said Phillips won the case because the sky was blue that day for all the relevance the opinion had to the underlying question: Does a Christian business owner have the right to refuse to produce goods and services for a gay wedding? That question still has not been answered.
For all the confused politicians out there, no one seemed more confused than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who drafted a bizarre, non sequitur statement of opposition to the ruling.
“The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is about the most fundamental right of all Americans: to be free from persecution and discrimination because of who they are or whom they love,” Pelosi wrote. “While narrowly framed to apply to the decision-making process undertaken by the state commission, today’s wrongheaded decision fails to uphold equality in this case.
“Masterpiece Cakeshop is a commercial bakery open to the public, and such services clearly must be made available to the public on equal terms as determined by an independent review by the Colorado Court of Appeals which should have been upheld,” she continued. “No business or organization open to the public should hide their discriminatory practices behind the guise of religious liberty.”
Pelosi reveals her confusion in the very first sentence when she declares freedom from “discrimination because of who they are or whom they love” to be THE most fundamental right of all Americans. This isn’t quite as bad as positioning abortion as a women’s healthcare issue, but it’s right up there. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about one’s freedom to love whomever they want. We can argue that it SHOULD be there, but the fact remains that it is not. Even if it were, Jack Phillips certainly did not deny anyone that freedom through his refusal to bake a cake.
What is in the Constitution is the right to practice your religion without encroachment from the government. That freedom was violated when the Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided that Phillips should be forced to bake a cake that violated his beliefs. And it was tarnished again when the Supreme Court could not muster the courage to call a strike a strike and a ball a ball. It was finally tarnished one more time when the most powerful Democrat in the country said that freedom of religion, wherever it may lie in the pantheon of American rights, is at least second to the rights of gays to be free from discrimination.
The Supreme Court had a golden opportunity to cut through this needless confusion and provide clarity; unfortunately, they chose to kick this issue down the road till another day. Maybe next time. Maybe next time we can find out whether or not the First Amendment actually still matters in modern America. Until then, practice your religion at your own risk.