Photo Credit: Sunira Moses (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Last week, when I wrote about the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, I mention about two concerns I had about the ruling. I stand by those concerns, but I do want to be clear about one thing, however, this decision in favor of Jack Phillips is a win.

It is justice for Jack Phillips, and there are two aspects to this case which will likely have some ramifications in other upcoming cases.

  1. The Supreme Court’s rebuke of anti-religious rhetoric that demonstrates bias.
  2. Their acknowledgment that the presence of double standards indicates that a law is not equally applied and also demonstrates bias.

David French at National Review pointed out last week that there are cases rife with anti-religious rhetoric:

…it may not be as easy to present the clean case as you think. Remember, many of these cases come out of state civil-rights commissions that are highly ideological and often outright hackish. They’re undisciplined and biased as a matter of course, and as much as they may try to be more rigorous in the future, they can’t do anything about the past. Religious-liberty attorneys are hunting through the records of other cases for similar statements. Don’t be surprised if they like what they find.

Also, how this case is decided may impact how commissions rule in the future. It’s one thing to target Christians, but will they also want to apply the same standard to groups they like? Probably not.

The likelihood of double standards still exist or they will tack toward freedom in all instances. I think it’s unlikely that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, for instance, will start to apply the same standards to LGBTQ bakers that they tried to apply toward Jack Phillips.

Becket Fund cites Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in a new case against Wayne State University in Michigan.

Becket Fund for Religious Liberty discussed the case in a press release last week:

For the second time in three months a Christian student group is fighting for its right to continue serving at the same campus it has been on for over 75 years.

In InterVarsity Christian Fellowship v. Wayne State University,  an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship student group is asking the court to protect its right to continue being a part of the campus community at Michigan-based  Wayne State University. Wayne State claims the Christian group is breaking the rules by asking its leaders to share its faith, even though it lets more than 90 other student groups choose their own leaders. Now the University is asking a federal court to give it the power to kick the group off campus any time.

“Wayne State allows 90 student groups to make their own rules for leaders—everyone from fraternities to the Quidditch Club,” said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at Becket, which represents the student group. “But Wayne State can’t wave a magic wand and make the Constitution disappear. Christian student groups have the same rights as everyone else.”

InterVarsity welcomes all students to join as members and only requires that its leaders agree with its faith. But in late 2017, Wayne State kicked the group off campus, canceled the group’s reserved meetings, and forced it to pay thousands to continue holding Bible studies on campus—all because it disagreed with InterVarsity’s leadership requirement. After the student group filed a lawsuit, represented by Becket, the University let the group back on campus. But the University is now asking the court for the power to kick the group off campus.

In their reply to the Court they state:

To Wayne State, actual secular sex discrimination is good while hypothetical religious sex discrimination is evil. But to the Supreme Court, a “rationale for the difference in treatment of these two instances cannot be based on the government’s own assessment of offensiveness.” Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm’n, No. 16- 111, slip op. 16, 584 U.S. __ (June 4, 2018). Thus, Wayne State “cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices.”

I think we’ll see this argument be made in many, many cases down the road.

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