Justice Kennedy appears to side with Christian baker in gay wedding cake case, attorney says

(Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)Baker Jack Phillips speaks with the media following oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case at the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2017.

An attorney involved in the high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission has said that Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to have accepted the arguments of Jack Phillips, a Christian baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

On Tuesday, the high court started hearing the oral arguments in the case over whether Phillips can be forced by the state of Colorado to design and create a cake celebrating same-sex marriage in violation of his religious beliefs.

Jonathan Scruggs, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the Colorado baker, said he felt that the oral arguments "went well."

In an interview with The Christian Post, Scruggs said that the justices, including Kennedy, appeared to be "very open to many of our arguments."

"Kennedy seemed to really hit the nail on the head talking about the importance of tolerance being essential in a free society and tolerance is most meaningful when its mutual," the attorney recounted.

"It did not seem to him that the state was being tolerant of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs. That is a pretty compelling statement," he added.

Kennedy, who is often a swing vote on controversial cases, stressed during the oral arguments that "tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it's mutual."

"It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs," the judge went on to say.

The Supreme Court is currently made up of five-leaning justices and four justices with more liberal inclinations.

During the oral arguments, Kennedy, a noted libertarian and the author of all the court's major gay-rights cases, expressed concern that a ruling in favor of Phillips might allow shop owners to put up signs saying, "We do not bake cakes for gay weddings."

While Kennedy had voted in favor of gay rights in the past, he had leaned towards gay rights in cases that do not pose a threat to first amendment rights.

In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, a case which disputed whether the Scouts could prohibit homosexuals from serving as troop leaders, Kennedy sided with the Scouts because it is a private institution that has the right to discriminate on the basis of their policies.

Phillips' case is one of several court battles involving Christian professionals who cater to weddings (such as florists, photographers, and caterers).

Nearly 100 amicus briefs have been filed in relation to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, including one from the Trump administration, which filed a brief supporting Phillips.

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