Seriously, this is exactly what I first thought after hearing about the Supreme Court’s recent decision (the one allowing an evangelical Christian baker to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple). I took it as permission for hypothetical baker me, as an atheist, to refuse service to evangelicals if I so choose. Why wouldn’t that be just as valid?
And broadening it ever so slightly … it’s my business; I should be able to serve or refuse to serve anyone I want. A disapproving public can always boycott me and put me out of business. That’s the way the market works. But of course the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says I can’t refuse service based on race, color, religion or national origin.
So I do not understand how SCOTUS reached this particular decision. It’s a refusal of service based on the baker’s religion. And how they can say it’s a limited decision that does not set precedent. Really? Isn’t that like telling a jury to disregard testimony they just heard? I’ll bet there are lawyers across the country right now thinking about how to use this decision to defend a refusal-of-service case.
Of course it was a lot more complicated than this. The decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is explained by Wikipedia:
While journalists and analysts believed that the Court would make a landmark decision in the case, the Court instead ruled on more narrow grounds, ruling (in a 7-2 decision) that the Commission did not employ religious neutrality, violating Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips’ rights to free exercise. The Court reversed the Commission’s decision, and avoided ruling on the broader intersection of anti-discrimination laws, free exercise of religion, and freedom of speech.
Or, again from Wikipedia:
By failing to act in a manner neutral to religion, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In other words, the CCRC lost; the baker won.
Still sounds like precedent to me.