Human Rights Campaign held a press conference outside the U.S. Supreme Court in October prior to delivering an amicus brief supporting gay couples in Masterpiece Cakeshop. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi

Marcia Coyle, the senior Washington correspondent at The National Law Journal, appeared Tuesday on PBS NewsHour to offer observations on the U.S. Supreme Court’s argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, not surprisingly, is expected to play a key role in how the court decides the dispute—where a Colorado business owner named Jack Phillips refused on religious grounds to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The case pits a clash between civil rights and First Amendment protections for speech and religion.

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“Counselor, tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs,” Kennedy said at oral argument.

Coyle, speaking with PBS NewsHour host John Yang, said:


Justice Kennedy, for this case in particular, it hits two things very close to home for him. One, he is probably the strongest defender of First Amendment speech rights on the bench right now. And he’s also a very strong defender of the dignity of the individual, which was at the center of the opinions that he has written supporting gay rights, particularly the most recent same-sex marriage decision.

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