Baker within rights to deny ser­vice

The Washington Times Weekly - - Letters To The Editor - FELIPE FER­NAN­DEZ Miami

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.

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