The Sisyphean cycle of progress and regress in American human rights protections continues as the Supreme Court, much like in the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. case of 1886 takes the focus of civil rights protection away from discriminated against a class of people and focuses on protecting businesses. In the Santa Clara County case of 1886, the 14th Amendment was used to protect corporations, declaring them persons. The focus subsequently was no longer on protecting the rights of former slaves and their descendants. Ten years after Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. 1886 we had the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), decision legalizing segregation under the "separate but equal doctrine.
Today instead of focusing on the denial of civil rights to gay Americans, the Court focused on the procedural considerations given to the discriminating baker, by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This case is straight out of the late 19th Century Supreme Court playbook. Justice Kennedy wrote in today's opinion “The neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised here,” MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, LTD., ET AL. v.
COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION ET AL. The result is that the interest of gay Americans to be free from discrimination was trumped by a greater concern by the Court for procedural neutrality by the reviewing commission, in order to protect those who actively discriminate in the course of interstate commerce, out of religious beliefs.
John H Armwood