On June 4, 2018 in Masterpiece Cakeshop, LTD., Et Al., vs Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Et Al. the US Supreme Court ruled… absolutely nothing. The baker had the ruling against him overturned, after having dealt with it for six years, but no case law was established in this case. The State of Colorado, while not recognizing gay marriage, ruled against the private baker Philips for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. This was too obnoxious even for the US Supreme Court and they based their ruling partly on the fact that Colorado’s refusal of licenses to gay couples made it reasonable for Philips to believe that it was legal to refuse to bake the gay cake. Since gay marriage is now legally recognized by all of the US, this conclusion would not apply to anyone since 2013. The US Supreme Court based the majority of their ruling on the fact that the Colorado commission was mean to Philips and that he had similar cases to rely on. The justices said that because the committee was hostile to Philips, it could not have possible weighed his First Amendment right to religion and freedom of speech against the plaintiffs’ right to conscript bakers; they did not say what the correct weighing would have been. Future judges will be able to avoid having their rulings overruled by simply not using hostile language in their rulings. The justices also ruled on the basis that the committee said that any speech would be attributed to the customer and not the baker, while having ignored this issue in cases where other bakers were not ordered to make cake with text on them. This in my opinion the most promising part of the case, but I highly doubt that the State will rule standard cakes without text to be symbolic speech anytime soon.
The justices almost taunted people and encouraged others to bring similar suits at the end of the ruling:
The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be re- solved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.
I would also like to point out that a “narrow ruling” means a ruling on a narrow legal issue. It does not mean a close vote.
This is how States operate. Not only do they act completely immorally, but they can’t even bother to avoid chaos in the process. The State does not actually believe in the right of the baker to free speech, the right of the baker to his religion, nor the right of the gay couple to conscript bakers because the State does not treat any of these “rights” as absolute. The US Supreme Court, and all case law, operates absent any premise. It ad hocs every case that is drug before it. That’s not to say that their behavior can not be predicted usually with a reasonable degree of accuracy, except in years with new appointees, but there is no structural premise on which all conclusions are based. Unexpected rulings do happen and when a truly new topic does come up there is no premise on which to base the conclusion. From a statist perspective the justices are “supposed to” base their rulings on the US Constitution. Unless you can point me to prohibitions on growing wheat in that document it is safe to say that there is no rational argument that this is actually the case, and even if it were the US Constitution is a structural document (which is what a constitution is) with some broad declarations on human rights tacked onto to the first nine “amendments,” not a premise itself. The State fails to provide on of the two major justifications for its existence; with roads your mileage will vary.
This is the nature of positive “rights.” If they aren’t ignored they will always need to be balanced and weighed because since they require another person to provide something they will always be in conflict. So in reality the only thing that anyone walks away with is preferences. The State has a preference for free speech, freedom of religion, access to accommodations, etc. but it is unwilling to take any of these things to their logical conclusions. Recognizing only property rights/the NAP is the non-chaotic standard that actually respects people’s rights.
Only negative rights are real rights and the only right anyone has is property rights. Respecting property rights makes several applications of positive rights redundant anyway. You don’t need freedom of speech if you have property rights in your bakery, ingredients, and self that are respected. Its Philips’ bakery and Philip’s person; he can do what he wants with them other than initiate force. This doesn’t require 18 pages of backstory and analysis. The only thing that needs to be known is that Philips has self-ownership and that he owns the bakery.
The NAP only requires that you do not initiate force. It does not require that you not be an asshole. You could be a incredibly heinous human being and still be in compliance with the NAP, but not initiating force is the only standard that should be enforced. Philips can be an asshole. You can hate him for this. You can refuse to buy cakes from people who are assholes. Using the force of the State against someone is not an appropriate response to their being an asshole. Just for practical reasons I’m not sure why anyone would want to conscript someone to bake them a cake thereby both protecting from the market people who refuse to serve certain demographics and likely resulting in an inferior product (especially for products of an artistic nature) for people in that demographic. Though it is not unlikely that people who spend their spare time attempting to conscript bakers intend to create chaos, hostility, and discord. Conscription also has the effect of shifting the focus of the topic of discussion from whether or not Philips should offer cake services to gay couples to whether or not Philips should be conscripted to bake cakes, which does not strike me as conducive to the alleged purpose of these aggressions/lawsuits.