Breaking down Supreme Court’s ruling in Virginia’s racial gerrymander case


A case involving a Christian Oregon couple that was successfully sued by the state for not baking a wedding cake for a gay couple was sent back to a lower court by the Supreme Court on Monday "for further consideration".

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa of Gresham, sought to take their case to the Supreme Court a year ago.

"The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a ruling against two OR bakers who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple", the outlet reported. While the ruling means that the state of Virginia must use voting district maps favored by Democrats, the decision was not based on the constitutionality of the state's gerrymandered districts; rather, the court found that the House was not legally capable of pursuing a challenge to the lower court's ruling on its own.

The Oregon anti-discrimination board had a novel interpretation of what constitutes freedom of speech. In the 1990s, the Supreme Court carved out an exception to this for cases where supposedly neutral legislation can be shown to be rooted in overt hostility against a religion.

The Supreme Court directed appellate judges in OR to reconsider the Kleins' case in light of the high court's ruling a year ago in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips.

After closing their Gresham bakery, the Kleins appealed the fine, touching off the legal battle that eventually landed at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the decision from the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries.

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Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer filed a complaint with a state administrative agency, arguing that the Kleins' refusal violated Oregon's anti-discrimination law, which covers sexual orientation.

Mark Herring, Virginia's attorney general and a Democrat, declined to appeal the district court's decision, so the House of Delegates chose to do it anyway. The Washington Supreme Court on June 6 ruled against the florist.

When told there was no groom, Klein said he was sorry but the bakery did not make cakes for same-sex weddings.

McGowan said it was important not to lose focus on the couple who were denied service at Sweetcakes when they entered the business expecting the same kind of treatment as any other couple seeking a wedding cake. As such, the question of First Amendment defenses to public accommodations laws requiring all businesses to serve gay patrons will return to the Court in the coming months.

Moreover, the $135,000 penalty levied against Aaron and Melissa Klein surprised some legal observers, who speculated the fine might be lowered upon re-evaluation of the case. Aaron Klein quoted a verse from the Book of Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination".

A state court in OR upheld that decision, finding that cakes do not deserve full First Amendment protection because they incorporate many non-expressive elements, and whatever expression they convey is not imputed to the creator.

Bloomberg offers this disturbing addition, noting the $135,000 award the Klein's were forced to pay the couple has been set aside and the lower court has been ordered to review the case through the lens of what it claimed at the time was a very narrow ruling limited only to one case: Colorado baker Jack Phillips. "This could have been prevented if Attorney General Herring would have defended the law of the Commonwealth and allowed the Court to provide an opinion on the merits of this case".