The Colorado Wedding Cake Case and the Supreme Court Ruling
Chuck: Chuck and Kelly. We are joined by our legal analyst, Paul Harding from Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Hey, Paul. How are you?
Paul: Hey. Good morning, Chuck. Good morning, Kelly.
Chuck: So, all right. So this big wedding cake ruling out in Colorado, you know. Even though it was 7-2, it was a so-called narrow ruling because rather than a ruling, and correct me if I’m wrong, that has, you know, wide-sweeping implications, this basically, this ruling affects really just this cake maker, right?
Paul: It does. So we’ve got these big headlines, but when it really comes down to it, the law certainly did not get changed yesterday. Discrimination based on sexual orientation did not change, but it did pertain to this cake-maker you said in Colorado with his custom cakes. He can choose not to sell them, in this case, to a gay couple.
Kelly: So it was my understanding though that they ruled that the Civil Rights Commission of Colorado violated his religious beliefs, but they didn’t necessarily rule that he had to or couldn’t provide cakes because of their religious belief. That was the other, that was the main issue was whether…
Paul: Yes it…
Kelly: Go ahead.
Paul: Yeah. No, you’re right. They really kind of sidestepped it in the sense that they just attacked the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. They said, “Commission, you are hostile towards his religious belief, therefore,” yeah. This is not a sweeping sense that now in essence, this same guy under a different set of fact could be violated again. So they made it to the point where everyone’s kind of standing there waiting for this big decision to come out, what’s it gonna mean, and the answer is, it just means very simple piece of fact to this individual, these individual plaintiffs and defendants.
Chuck: So they were saying that if this Colorado Commission issued its ruling against this cake-maker, the Supreme Court just said, “Hey. You have to consider his religious beliefs before you make any decision.”
Paul: Yeah, and exactly what they did. There’s another case coming up probably in about six months or so. We think they’re gonna take it. It involves a florist, and this does not have this sort of custom feel to it. These are just sort of a bunch of flowers that were ordered for a wedding. The florist would not provide the flowers because it was gonna be a wedding involving a lesbian couple, and that case they think has the makings to make more of a statement and more of a change in the law. And we’ll have to see now how that, if they take the case, and then how that comes down.
Kelly: Now, what does this mean now for Liberty Ridge? Do they have now a potential to revisit their case and say, “Hey, listen. If he doesn’t have to make a cake for a gay couple, we shouldn’t have to open up our farm to wedding ceremonies for gay couples.”
Paul: Sure. Any time you had a decision, and the courts were so careful here to say, “Listen, guys. We are not saying anything more than what happened in this case,” there’s not a lot here for these other groups that have come before them or maybe cases that are pending to say, “Listen. I am exactly like this guy. We have an advantage now.” It was a true sidestep and I think that that’s the way it’s being viewed. I don’t think many people are looking at this as an advantage or disadvantage to their case.
Chuck: The President yesterday said in, unequivocally, “I can pardon myself. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I could theoretically pardon myself.” What do you think? Because I’ve heard legal scholars on both sides said, “Yes he can. No, he can’t.”
Paul: Yeah. Whether you go both sides, every side. So Article II says though that Presidents can pardon other people and it gives the facts, but it never said they can pardon themselves, but it doesn’t say you can’t pardon yourself, right? So scholars are looking at this and saying, “You know, you just, you can’t be judge, jury, and executioner, right? There’s this sort of separation of powers and for a President to be able to do that, it just feels wrong.” But, again, we’re gonna have to see if in fact he did something wrong and if in fact he then attempts to pardon himself, you know. The constitution is silent as to whether a President can do that.
Chuck: Yep. So I know, like, there’s a, the federalist papers say, “No one is above the law,” but by the other token, I’ve seen other attorneys say, “Yeah. The President’s right.” And then I think we’re probably getting to what you said. I saw a Michigan State law professor say, “We’re not really going to know until the Supreme Court takes this up someday.”
Paul: And if he were to do that, I think there would be an impeachment, and then once he’s impeached, then we could see this thing come back around, right? So, I, yeah. I, but it is an interesting tweet and it is something that it really depends on where you come down politically as to how, what your opinion is to whether the President can do this.
Chuck: WGY legal analyst, Paul Harding, Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. 1-800-LAW-1010. Thanks a lot, Paul.
Paul: Okay guys. Thank you.