Baker within rights to deny service
It seems like baking a cake has never been more decisive. The Supreme Court’s coming decision concerning a bakery owner who refused to bake a cake for a homosexual couple’s wedding is at its core about the baker’s religious beliefs. Thus, the expected decision will have widespread consequences — not just in our understanding of freedom of religion, but also in how we conduct business in this nation.
The fundamental flaw I perceive in the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is its inability to appreciate the radical difference between an offer to sell and a service. The bakery owner, Jack Phillips, was totally within his rights to deny service; moreover, he is entitled to deny his services to anyone of his choosing. One can fairly conclude that the commission abused Mr. Phillips, because compelling him to act constitutes a blatant violation of his First Amendment rights.
The legal situation becomes clear if we visualize a ready-made cake on display in the store. In this hypothetical situation, the cake is clearly offered for sale and therefore anyone would be entitled to buy it. That situation is totally different from what we have in this case. Mr. Phillips was asked to use his artistic talents to create a custom item for the couple in question.
Following the commission’s thinking, lawyers would be obliged to take every case, newspapers would be required to run every notice or ad and so on. The lesson to learn here is that, indeed, rights truly cut both ways.