The Supreme Court decision today that supports the right of a Colorado baker to refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple holds no long-range implications for future cases involving either gay rights or religious liberty.

That is the opinion of Marc Stern, general counsel of AJC, a global Jewish advocacy organization, who said the court’s 7-2 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission reflected a narrow focus on the language used by the Commission, rather than on the merits of the dueling issues of gay and religious rights.

“I would not celebrate. I would not mourn — it’s much too early,” Stern said.

Unlike several Jewish organizations that had filed friend-of-the-court briefs on one side or the other, the AJC did not take a position on the case.

While conservative organizations, including some in the Jewish community, issued statements today praising the Supreme Court ruling as a victory for religious liberty, and liberal groups criticized the ruling as a defeat for marriage equality, Stern said the decision has few wider implications.

The Supreme Court, did not decide if a business has the right to refuse to serve gay and lesbian couples outright.

“It didn’t really resolve a lot” of the issues that are likely to be raised by related forthcoming cases before the Supreme Court, Stern said. “It’s not a decision about gay rights or about religious liberty. It’s about the adjudication process,” specifically language of the Commission that was judged hostile to Phillips’ religious beliefs, Stern said.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the Court’s majority, seconded this feeling.

Kennedy wrote that the Commission “compromised … the neutral and respectful consideration to which [defendant Jack] Philips was entitled.” The Commission, Kennedy wrote, “has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Kennedy wrote.

The high court justices ruled against David Mullins, left, and Charlie Craig in Monday’s decision.

In 2012, Philips, owner of a bakery in Lakewood, Co., refused two men who approached him about making a cake for their wedding reception; he said baking the cake would convey support for same-sex marriage, which conflicted with his strong Christian beliefs.

The pair, citing a state law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation, filed a complaint with the state’s Civil Rights Commission and the Colorado Court of Appeals, both of which sided with the gay couple. The Commission ordered the bakery to change its company policies.

While the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Phillips, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

“Though disappointing, the decision ultimately was narrow in scope, and should not open the floodgates for broader discrimination against same-sex couples.”

“Though disappointing, the decision ultimately was narrow in scope, and should not open the floodgates for broader discrimination against same-sex couples,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. “Crucially, the majority decision reaffirms the “rights and dignity” of LGBT people, and affirms the right of states to protect LGBT people from discrimination by business owners, even on religious grounds. Given the narrow scope of the decision, which set no new precedent, similar cases will likely come forward in the future. We will need to work on the legal and legislative fronts to ensure that any new cases end with upholding and strengthening the equal rights of all. “Judaism affirms the absolute dignity and equal worth of every single person,” Rabbi Jacobs said in an email interview. “The language of the decision reflects this value, as should all laws and policies of the United States.”

“The decision didn’t rule on whether or not the baker can refuse the order, only on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission having treated [Phillips] unfairly,” said Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, a charedi umbrella organization.

“It is unfortunate that the ruling does not reach or provide clarity on the substantive issue of whether Mr. Phillips and other such proprietors faced with a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Kennedy wrote.

David Mullins (L) and Charlie Craig wait to speak to journalists after the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the commission in 2012 after conservative Christian baker Jack Phillips refused to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. Getty Images

In 2012, Philips, owner of a bakery in Lakewood, Co., refused two men who approached him about making a cake for their wedding reception; he said baking the cake would convey support for same-sex marriage, which conflicted with his strong Christian beliefs.

The pair, citing a state law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation, filed a complaint with the state’s Civil Rights Commission and the Colorado Court of Appeals, both of which sided with the gay couple. The Commission ordered the bakery to change its company policies.

While the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Phillips, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

“Though disappointing, the decision ultimately was narrow in scope, and should not open the floodgates for broader discrimination against same-sex couples,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. “Crucially, the majority decision reaffirms the “rights and dignity” of LGBT people, and affirms the right of states to protect LGBT people from discrimination by business owners, even on religious grounds. Given the narrow scope of the decision, which set no new precedent, similar cases will likely come forward in the future. We will need to work on the legal and legislative fronts to ensure that any new cases end with upholding and strengthening the equal rights of all. “Judaism affirms the absolute dignity and equal worth of every single person,” Rabbi Jacobs said in an email interview. “The language of the decision reflects this value, as should all laws and policies of the United States.”

Same-sex marriage cake toppers are displayed on a shelf at Fantastico on December 5, 2017 in San Francisco, California. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a civil rights case over a Colorado baker’s refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Getty Images

“The decision didn’t rule on whether or not the baker can refuse the order, only on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission having treated [Phillips] unfairly,” said Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, a charedi umbrella organization.

“It is unfortunate that the ruling does not reach or provide clarity on the substantive issue of whether Mr. Phillips and other such proprietors faced with similar conflicts will find [constitutional] free exercise protection within the First Amendment,” said an Agudah statement. “Nonetheless, the court’s ruling is gratifying that it emphasizes that religious freedom concerns must be given a full and deserving measure of consideration, even within the context of local and state anti-discrimination law. We are also pleased that the court explicitly affirmed the right of members of the clergy to be able to refuse to participate in ceremonies which they object to for religious reasons.”

“For a religious minority community, the masterpiece case is a big case. There’s a way to balance religious liberty and LGBT rights that doesn’t have to end in culture wars.”

“For a religious minority community, the masterpiece case is a big case, said Nathan Diament, Washington director for the Orthodox Union. “There’s a way to balance religious liberty and LGBT rights that doesn’t have to end in culture wars.

“The Supreme Court sent a clear message: that the demonization of religious beliefs — especially in policymaking — is constitutionally unacceptable,” Diament said.

Another politically conservative Jewish organization, the Coalition for Jewish Values, said it “welcomed” today’s ruling. “Leftist groups attempted to elevate same-sex marriage to be a fundamental matter of identity, such that not baking a wedding cake would be akin to refusing service to blacks or Jews. That would not embrace civil rights, it would have trampled them, sacrificing religious freedoms ensconced in the First Amendment to the altar of political correctness.”

The Bend the Arc Jewish Action organization, while expressing relief that the Supreme Court’s decision “was not the sweeping negative ruling it could have been,” declared in a statement that “As Americans and as Jews, we affirm that discrimination is not ‘religious freedom,’ and pretending otherwise is an insult to those who have suffered religious persecution.”

steve@jewishweek.org