ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of a baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple because it violated his religious beliefs.
“There are plenty of other people who will bake that cake. Give me a break!” Sessions said in a speech at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center’s Annual Leadership Mission in Washington, D.C. — a group that co-authored an amicus brief with other religious organizations in support of the baker.
“There is no need for the power of the government, no need for the state’s power, to be arrayed against an individual who is honestly attempting to live out, to freely exercise his sincere religious beliefs,” Sessions said, congratulating the group for the “victory.”
In a 7-2 ruling last week, the court disagreed with a Colorado court’s previous ruling that the gay couple, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, had been discriminated against based on sexual orientation and ruled in favor of the appeal by the baker, Jack Phillips. The opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was hostile to Phillips’ First Amendment rights and that his “religious objection was not considered with the neutrality that the Free Exercise Clause requires.”
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
The attorney general’s comments came ahead of his announcement of a new Department of Justice initiative aimed at protecting religious liberty.
Last year, the Trump administration sided with Phillips, who owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., and issued an amicus brief arguing that forcing Phillips to bake the cakes “invades his First Amendment rights.”
“Phillips views the creation of custom wedding cakes as a form of art, to which he devotes his creativity and artistic talents,” the brief reads. “… When Phillips designs and creates a custom wedding cake for a specific couple and a specific wedding, he plays an active role in enabling that ritual, and he associates himself with the celebratory message conveyed.”
Phillips maintained in an interview with ABC News last week that he said no to the baking of the cake itself and not to serving the couple.
“We serve everybody who comes in the shop. We just can’t create every cake they ask us to,” he said and added that he would also refuse to bake cakes with a Halloween theme or ones with “anti-American” messages.
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