Constitutional Writes: The gay wedding cake case

Befuddled and even a little dismayed that today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to create a cake for a same-sex wedding skirted the overarching constitutional issues involved and turned instead on case-specific issues?

(The Court’s majority opinion, which was not divided along ideological lines, focused on specific actions of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission at the baker’s hearing and what it called the commission’s failure to treat him with the required religious neutrality.)

To legal observers, this appeared entirely in character. This is actually in keeping with a long-time SCOTUS policy of avoiding having to decide a broader federal constitutional question when there is a non-constitutional, or state-specific, basis for ruling on a case. The Court won’t bend over backwards to do this, but if it can find a logical way to resolve a dispute between two parties that doesn’t involve adopting new constitutional precedent, it generally does.

I imagine the Court will eventually be called upon to address the larger constitutional issues involved. But in the meantime, it’s following its longstanding philosophy: “Let (constitutional) sleeping dogs lie.”

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