The left decried the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Monday that blasted a Colorado bureaucracy hostile to Christians, ruling Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips had a right to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual duo.
Establishment media emphasized the case was decided on “narrow” grounds, based on the hostility exhibited by state officials “toward the sincere religious beliefs” of Phillips.
But the ruling sent a wave of fear through liberal activists across the country, with reason, said talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.
“The left is scared to death of this, and they’re out there saying, ‘Don’t worry. It’s very, very narrow. It’s a very narrow interpretation, and it’s not a constitutional interpretation, so don’t worry about.’ But they can’t stop worrying about it. CNN hasn’t stopped analyzing it, hasn’t stopped talking about it,” he said Monday.
He described the Colorado bureaucrats “hostile” attitude toward the Christian baker.
“They called him a Nazi. They said he was a Holocaust denier. They gave him the usual deranged, insane left-wing insults at the hearing at the Colorado Civil Rights Commission,” Limbaugh said.
“But, folks to tell you how important this is and how big it is, you have to look at what would have happened if it had gone the other way,” he said. “If the court had ruled that this baker was required to bake this cake for a gay couple in violation of his constitutional protections, the freedom to practice his religion, if he had lost this, you don’t think the left would be out there saying, ‘Well, it’s not that big a deal. It’s just pretty narrow.’ They would be dancing on graves right now.”
Limbaugh said the decision is “a huge deal and don’t let anybody tell you it isn’t.”
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“The left is just trying to provide solace to its lunatic, deranged base and to keep them from feeling entirely, totally defeated.”
The ruling did not set a free speech precedent for Christian business owners, as it could have.
But Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, told WND the bottom line is that it is a big victory for Jack Phillips, Masterpiece Cakeshop and Christians.
It means their faith cannot be cast aside or disparaged by the government, he said.
However, it didn’t resolve every issue, and there will be more cases coming, because of the backlash against Christians by LGBT activists following the 2015 creation of same-sex marriage, he said.
He noted it was predicted that “religious people and (religious) views would be targeted” after the 2015 same-sex marriage case.
Other Christian bakers have been targeted, as have Christian photographers, calligraphers and florists.
Staver said the free speech issue could be decided in a few weeks, when a decision is expected on a case in which the government is demanding that pro-life centers promote abortion.
He pointed out that Justice Neil Gorsuch explained at length that the same state commission that acted punitively against Phillips had let off the hook three other bakers who refused to produce a cake for a customer because they were offended by the message.
Gorsuch pointed out that Phillips was not granted the same treatment.
“All of the bakers explained without contradiction that they would not sell the requested cakes to anyone,” he wrote. So as with Phillips’ case, “it was the kind of cake, not the kind of customer, that mattered.”
The state, he wrote, cannot “apply a more generous legal test to secular objections than religious ones.”
Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which defended Phillips, said the court decision “isn’t as narrow as some people are telling you.”
He said the principle that government “can’t be hostile” is very important.
And he said some critics are comparing the case to race discrimination, but that has no link to reality.
Mike Berry of First Liberty said the decision is “narrow” in the sense that “it is not a sweeping decision that establishes a new right or rule.”
“I think ‘limited’ may be a better term to describe the decision, which repudiates the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s anti-religious bias.”
“We are pleased that the court also rejected the notion that government can force Americans to choose between their sincerely held beliefs and their livelihoods, which is exactly what happened to First Liberty clients, Aaron and Melissa Klein,” he said.
Berry said the Kleins “deserve the same protection from a hostile government that the Supreme Court provided for Jack Phillips.”
Fox New analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano viewed the case as very narrow. In fact, he said someone could approach Phillips again about a same-sex wedding cake, be refused and sue again.
But he didn’t mention the fact that the state commission already has ruling secular bakers could refuse a message on a cake because they didn’t like it. Any decision forcing Phillips to create a message with which he disagreed also could give rise to the same hostility claims again.
Limbaugh confirmed the attack comes from the left side of the political spectrum.
“This was a fight that was provoked by the militant political gay movement. They targeted a religious baker and chose this guy to make a case. They could have gone any bakery in Colorado. They could have gone to any bakery in Denver. They could have gone up and down the interstate anywhere they wanted. They could have found somebody who would have happily baked them a cake,” he said.
“But they didn’t do that. They targeted somebody that they knew wouldn’t bake them the cake or thought wouldn’t bake them the cake because this is how the left operates. The thing to take away from this is what the left wants. The left is anti-liberty. The left is very comfortable denying anyone who disagrees with them their freedom, including constitutional freedoms,” Limbaugh said.
“You know, where you listen to the left talk about how this is very narrow and not that encompassing. Imagine how you would feel today if it’d gone the other way, if by a 7-2 vote in the Supreme Court they had ruled that Christian religious freedom essentially doesn’t exist or didn’t in this case,” he said.
“I mean, the left would have been on this, and they would have been marching into every religious business they could find and challenging it, starting late this morning, certainly early this afternoon. They would have been out there doing everything they could to maximize this. So, as far as that — even though it’s just an individual case — the Supreme Court stood up for religious liberty, First Amendment in a major, major way.”
Newsbusters reported liberal book publisher Haymarket Books tweeted almost immediately after the ruling was released, “Abolish the Supreme Court.”
Rosie O’Donnell tweeted, “when trump is DONE – every judge he installed must be removed starting with gorsuch #REMOVEGORSUCH.”
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane tweeted a statement “that made major exaggerations and showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the judgment of the case,” a Newsbusters report said.
MacFarlane said: “Here’s one of the many problems with Monday’s myopic Supreme Court ruling on ‘religious freedom’: It’s a shorter walk than we think, particularly today, from ‘I won’t bake them a cake because they’re gay’ to ‘I won’t seat him here because he’s black.'”
In the Supreme Court case, a homosexual duo demanded that Phillips produce a same-sex wedding cake for them. When he refused, citing his Christian faith, the homosexual duo filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which ordered Phillips into reindoctrination.
But the Supreme Court ruling said Colorado violated the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause by showing hostility toward Phillips’ religious beliefs.
“The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression,” the court said.
The court said Colorado law protects gay persons “in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members,” but it found “the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”
The state officials were given a tongue-lashing.
“The commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case … showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection. As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillip’s faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the free speech issue should have been resolved.
“When a public accommodations law ‘has the effect of declaring … speech itself to be the public accommodation,’ the First Amendment applies with full force,” he said.
Expressive conduct, therefore, cannot be restricted by government, he explained. To Phillips, “a wedding cake inherently communicates that ‘a wedding has occurred, a marriage has begun, and the couple should be celebrated.'”
“Wedding cakes do, in fact, communicate this message,” Thomas wrote.
Thomas argued states “cannot punish protected speech because some group finds it offensive, hurtful, stigmatic, unreasonable, or undignified.”
“A contrary rule would allow the government to stamp out virtually any speech at will.”
Thomas recalled that in the 2015 same-sex marriage case, he “warned that the court’s decision would ‘inevitably … come into conflict’ with religious liberty ‘as individuals … are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.'”
“This case proves that the conflict has already emerged. … In future cases ,the freedom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to ‘stamp out every vestige of dissent’ and ‘vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.'”
Associate Justice Ruth Ginsburg, in a dissent, claimed that Phillips discriminated because he would sell a wedding cake to a heterosexual couple but not to a homosexual couple. But the majority argued Phillips said he would not sell a same-sex wedding cake to anyone at all.
She also made accommodations for state commission member who essentially called Phillips a Nazi, stating, “I see no reason why the comments of one or two commissioners would be taken to overcome Phillips’ refusal to sell a wedding cake.”