Attorney General Leslie Rutledge found a reason to cheer the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today on the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding reception cake for a gay couple. Sen. Tom Cotton pitched in, too.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement after the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Jack Phillips, a Denver baker who was attacked by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for declining to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
“As the Attorney General, I am proud to have joined this fight in support of Jack Phillips with Masterpiece Cake Shop because an individual’s religious freedom must be preserved and Americans such as Jack must be protected from religious discrimination,” said Rutledge. “Tolerance is a two-way street, and in this case, we found balance. Today’s decision is a big win for religious liberty across the country.”
Many observers have said the decision is a good bit more nuanced than Rutledge lets on. This case could go back to Colorado for another hearing that could conclude, after further consideration of his religious argument, that the Baker could not pick and choose whom he decides to provide with his public services. Remember that the court didn’t buy the argument of those who claimed a religious exemption from serving black people.
But the case was not a win for equal rights that it could have been. And Rutledge is decidedly NOT for equal rights for gay people. So that much is clear.
Then came Sen. Tom Cotton, who, if he means what he says, should call for reopening of civil rights cases where people who refused service to blacks claimed a religious protection.
“Religious freedom is the first freedom, and the government ought not force people of faith to violate their beliefs. The Supreme Court has rightly decided that open hostility to religion has no place in a free country’s government and that people of faith deserve full protection under the law, no less than any other citizen.”
The question for Rutledge and Cotton and their fellow travelers:
Should the Supreme Court now be asked to reverse Newman v. Piggie Park in which the court ruled that a South Carolina restaurant owner’s refusal to serve barbecue to black people could not be defended as his claim of religious freedom?